“Let’s Make America Great Again” – Ronald Reagan, 1992
“Let America Be America Again” – John Kerry. 2004
“Restore America Now” – Ron Paul, 2012
“Make America Great Again” – Donald Trump, 2016
It seems as if every politician of every stripe, irrespective of party affiliation, is enamored with the greatness of America. It doesn’t matter if they are running for local or national office; at some point during the course of their campaigns they give us a version of wanting to restore America to its greatness.
As an American, who happens to be of African descent, I am truly offended by these shallow pronouncements for myriad reasons. First and foremost, I became of age in a segregated and racist country. Secondly, from a truthful and historical perspective, there was nothing great about America’s past. I can cite example after example to support my premise.
Since the founding of our country, we have been anything but great. I cite the treatment of the Native American, the enslavement of the Africans and our constant engagement in wars as examples of why we should cease and desist with talk of America’s greatness. I might also add the dropping of not one, but two atomic bombs on the civilian populations of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan during World War II. I submit none of the aforementioned supports and/or justify a self-professed declaration of greatness.
For us continue to pontificate about America’s past and present greatness is to be disingenuous at best and delusional at worst. At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, we will take a break from our pompous boasting and realize that the entirety of the world is not impressed by our words but are more attuned to who we really are due to our actions.
Let’s take a look at just a few metrics with comparison to the rest of the world. We are indeed number one with respect to the following: 1) The fabrication and exportation of weapons of mass production; 2) The number of incarcerated prisoners and in illegal drug use. Additionally, we also lead the world in obesity, anxiety disorders and small arms ownership.
And let’s not forget, we are the only developed country in the world which does not provide universal health care to its citizens! Is it because of America’s greatness that we are one of a very few countries that does not use the metric system as well?
I am reminded of the evil Sebastian in Act II, Scene I of the Tempest in which he spoke “past is prologue.” For America, I submit it does not have to be. Our country has been led by White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) men for 221 out of its 235 years of existence (beginning with George Washington’s presidency). And all of them have shown a proclivity for war. The truth is we are a warring nation. The neocons, war hawks and their handlers who created and perpetuate the military industrial complex continue to make us anything but great in this regard.
As a matter of fact, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, our 34th president and a former army general warned us of the military industrial complex in his farewell speech to the nation. It goes without saying his words have NOT been heeded. Today, we are still actively involved in multiple wars and the neocons want more U.S. involvement! For us to be even considered a great nation in the eyes of the world we must find the resolve to put an end to this nonsense.
But even worse, today we have a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, whose slogan is to “Make America Great Again” who has the temerity, the unmitigated gall to mock our democratic process by insinuating he may not accept the will of the American people. Worst yet, none of the major leaders within the Republican Party have called him on this. The greatness of America – NOT!
To quote my home boy, Junebug, “we need to stop talking ‘bout it and be ‘bout it!” We can begin be electing individuals who want to study war no more; decrease our military industrial complex; provide universal health care for all our citizens; overturn Citizens United; establish term limits for all national elected officials and get money out of politics NOW!
At which point we won’t have to pronounce our greatness; it will be on display for the entire world to see. Until then, shh…