What Does “Make America Great Again” Really Mean?

Rep. Fullwood
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by Reggie Fullwood

For months I have avoided writing about Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. I shouldn’t even call it Trump’s slogan because it’s really conservative propaganda that’s been repeated by numerous candidates and people who like to speak in general terms – versus being specific about this great country.

You know what I am talking about – the slogan, “Make America great again.”

Let me just cut across the field and get to it. How does a candidate or party make America great again? One has to start with the notion or perception that America is currently not a great nation?

I would certainly disagree with that notion. How about the other slogan used by some conservatives, “Let’s take America back.” Now on the surface, one could argue that proponents of this theme simply want their party back in office. I say oh really?

With Republicans controlling Congress, I guess it means to take the White House back from the Democrats.

That has to be it right? I can’t imagine Americans actually feeling that we need to take America back from a Black president. No – this is the United States and people don’t think that way in 2016.

We are no longer a nation divided by race and inequality. Segregation is dead, and so are Jim Crow policies and the notion that whites are superior over other minorities right?

News flash for those living under a rock or in a cave somewhere – America is still a nation that is divided when it comes to racial relations and perceptions of who we are as a nation.

The great diversity of cultures and races that has made America so exceptional is now seen as a negative contributor to our countries greatness. There are actually Americans that believe we should ban Muslims and feel that the Black Lives Matter organization is a terrorist group.
I am not sure what America we live in today. So how exactly do we make America great again?

Hmmm…. I am still thinking about this one. And this certainly isn’t a new theme – Ronald Reagan first used itduring his 1980 presidential campaign.

Which time frame in our “great” history should we strive to go back to? Hmmm… maybe we can look at the founding of our young nation – 1776? Well there are a few problems with that time period. I’ll just mention a couple – slavery,women’s limited rights and as a throw in – extreme poverty.

Well how about we look at the 1900s – surely America was great then.

On second thought, I am going to do what many conservatives and Donald Trump supporters refuse to do – be honest. The subliminal message wrapped in to the slogan is a message of fear. All you had to do is watch 15 minutes of the Republican National Convention to see that what Trump and his minion are selling isn’t a vision for the future, but fear of who we are or could become as a nation.

The Donald constantly tells his followers that America was great, but today is a punching bag for China, Russia and even Mexico.

He talks in general terms about what America has become, but refuses to answer the question of exactly when was America so exalted since we are no longer a “great” nation.

For Trump’s base of white, working-class men without college degrees, this “Make America Great Again” message resonates because this used to be a great country for them, and now they are somehow hurting and now these minorities are everywhere.

But here’s another news flash to think about. For most Americans, the good old days weren’t actually that good. For blacks, we are still waiting to see our “good old days.” For women, the struggle for equal pay and other inequalities still exists. Gays have certainly won some important legal battles, but the struggle for acceptance and equality is still an issue.

But despite our challenges as a nation, America is great.

Today in America, we elected an African American president, our economy has bounced back from perhaps the worst recession of all time, and for the first time in our country’s history a woman has been nominated by one of the major parties as their candidate for president.
I won’t even talk about the number of people who now have health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the fact that we have seen record job growth under President Obama.

So let’s keep it real. America has problems like any other nation, but instead of focusing on fear and bigotry, candidates for president should be focused on leadership and vision for the future. We can make America better, but it’s ludicrous to talk about making this country great “again.”
Signing off from a picket line at the Trump Rally in Jacksonville, FL,

Reggie Fullwood

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