Making America Great
Irv Randolph | 7/2/2017, 8:22 a.m.
As we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th this is a good time to reflect on the state of our union.
How are we doing as a nation?
Are we progressing, declining or simply standing still?
President Donald Trump promises to “Make American Great Again.”
But what does that mean?
Based on his campaign promises and budget proposal, Trump’s idea of making the country great appears to consist of restricting Mexicans and Muslims from entering the country through walls and travel bans, building up border security and defense, unconditional support for police, protectionist’s trade policies and reducing taxes for corporations and the wealthy.
Will this make America great?
I don’t think so.
Trump and his supporters are taking a reactionary approach to America’s problems.
For Trump, a rich, white male, a return to the past may make sense.
But for me and millions like me, nostalgia is not what this country needs.
The America of the past was a less diverse nation with government sanctioned segregation. Blacks, women, and gays were told to stay in their place and had few rights that white males had to respect.
But after decades of struggle America has made tremendous progress in the past 50 years. Blacks, women, gays, religious minorities and others have made unprecedented gains.
Americans of all ethnicities have become self-made millionaires, cultural icons, and reached the top of their professions and unprecedented positions in politics.
In the past 20 years, a black man was elected twice president of the United States and before him another black man led the world’s largest military. A black woman and two white women has served as Secretary of State; a Latina sits on the U.S. Supreme Court; Indian-Americans have served as governors of Louisiana and South Carolina; Jewish Americans now serve in some of the top positions in corporate America and gays can now marry. The nation has moved closer than any other to being a society where people are not judged by their sex, color or creed.
Despite Trump pronouncements of doom and gloom, America remains the most powerful nation and technology advanced in the world.
And we are fortunate that the U.S. is not in a major war and is not facing an economic crisis.
But this does not mean all is well in America.
No, all is not well.
There are some who seek to take the country in a far right direction and there has been a resurgence of white nationalism. Wealth is more concentrated in fewer hands, leading to greater income inequality.
After decades of decline, crime is rising in some cities and the attorney general is talking about a renewed “law and order” approach similar to one championed by Richard Nixon. Prior to Trump’s election there was a growing bipartisan consensus to decriminalize non-violent drug offenses at the federal level.
Many Americans face stagnant wages and jobs loss through globalization and technology.
The challenge today is to retain the hard earn rights that have been earned through decades of struggle while expanding opportunity through education and training.