And why it makes the United States of America great.
President Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, which appears to be his 2020 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” (MAGA for short), was a very curious choice for a campaign message. At least for him.
For starters, it is hardly original. The late former President Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan was “Let’s Make America Great Again” (photo at the top is a 1980 Reagan campaign button). Perhaps Mr. Trump was channeling his inner Reaganus Maximus when he chose his campaign slogan, simply dropping the word “Let’s” from Reagan’s 1980 slogan.
Secondly, Mr. Trump’s 2016 slogan is even more passive aggressive than Mr. Reagan’s 1980 slogan, since it implies that our country was once great, but isn’t great anymore and needs improvement. Ostensibly, improvements that only Mr. Trump can provide. While no country is ever a perfect entity that benefits and adequately and fairly supports all of its citizens, exactly what happened in the years preceding Mr. Trump’s campaign and subsequent election to the presidency that made our country less great?
At least Mr. Reagan had the backdrop of a flailing economy and the ineptitude and naivety of the Jimmy Carter administration which followed the aftermath of the Watergate scandal as precursors to his campaign. Reagan had his work cut out for him to restore some of the luster the nation lost in those years.
Mr. Trump had no such daunting challenges ahead of him when he started running for president in 2015-2016. The economy he takes credit for today was well on its way to where it is now because of his predecessor. There was no big albatross around the neck of the country like the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the disastrously failed attempt to rescue those American hostages.
I’ll leave it to my readers’ imaginations as to what exactly needed to be made great again about our country, but my own theory is that MAGA is and always was about stirring up white resentment and fear of immigrants and minorities following the end of the first black American’s two-term presidency.
I know my theory is going to offend some of the people reading my post, but I can only go by what I see.
While we can debate whether Mr. Trump himself is a racist or a white supremacist, that he is embraced by avowed racists and white supremacists is not debatable. The president himself said that we as a nation needed to build “a big beautiful wall” to keep out Mexicans and South Americans coming across our southern border because “Mexico isn’t sending their best”. He compounded that during his presidency so far by referring to predominantly black and brown countries as “s**thole countries”.
There are only so many ways statements like that can be interpreted.
People emigrate from their home countries to find a better life in the country they immigrate to. By definition, they are not among their home country’s “best”. As anti-racism activist Tim Wise once said, “the winners (in a given nation) don’t get on the boat and leave to go to another country”. However, picking up and moving to another country to seek new opportunities is a very brave and intelligent thing to do.
Immigration is what drives our diversity and it doesn’t matter what country people come from. As Ronald Reagan said in one of his 1980 campaign speeches:
In one of Mr. Reagan’s last speeches as president, he remarked:
I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace – a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.
That’s how I saw it, and see it still. How Stands the City?
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that: after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm.
And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
Our country never needed to be made “great again”. It never stopped being great!
-The Rational Ram