Make America Good For Once

I owe an explanation to my loyal readers:  I’m not going Democrat or Republican, and I’m not suddenly anti-Trump any more than I am anti-Clinton.

The reason I’m here, saying the things I’m saying, is that nobody else seems to be doing it.  CNN and Fox News have stopped reporting what is and are each now spinning absurd fictions — not, I think, because they want to sway our opinions, but because they honestly can’t come to grips with the actual truth long enough to put it into words.

And the horrifying truth is, we’re all terrified and angry and disgusted because President Donald Trump is keeping his campaign promises as best he can.  He really does seem to want to Make America Great Again.

And I don’t.

“Let me ‘splain.  …No; ees too much.  Let me sum up…”
-Inigo Montoya

Look, we’ve all heard the slogan dissected and re-hashed, so I’m not going to get into questions like “Doesn’t this imply that we aren’t great now?” and “Wait — were we ever great?”  Because, important though those questions are, they’re not really the point.

The point is, the United States is the last superpower in the world.  We have more and better guns and soldiers than the next guy; we’re better armed than pretty much everyone else out there combined.  We’re also the richest country in the world, at the wealthiest moment of human history, at the pinnacle of human technology and achievement.

And yet we ask ourselves whether we’d rather feed and house our homeless veterans or, instead, accept some refugees — as though we need to make that kind of choice.  We could house them all, feed, clothe, employ, and educate, all on pocket change.  The question should be, why don’t we do both?  But somehow, it’s not.

“Should be” and “is” are never anywhere near each other, it seems.  The best we’ve seen in my lifetime is “trying to be”, and right now we’re trying to be a superpower ten years after we last had someone to oppose us.

In November of 2016, I voted Johnson.  I did it because I saw Donald Trump coming a long way off, and I had a pretty good idea what he had in mind.  And, debates over Clinton aside, I have no regret whatsoever over my vote.

Because it bears repeating:  Donald Trump really does want to Make America Great Again.

“Great” is one hell of an epithet, by the bye.  Alexander was Great, sure, but he had to kill a shit-ton of people to manage it, and he was dead before he was a father.  Catherine of Russia was Great too, but only after assassinating her husband, seizing the throne, and incidentally ruthlessly suppressing rebellions and her own family.  The only good man I’ve ever run across who was also Great was Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, who invaded Europe in an effort to end the ceaseless violence. (He was unsuccessful.)

Napoleon was great. Mussolini was great. Adolf Hitler was great.

I do not want my country to be great, damn it all!  I’d like to see it try to be good for a change, though.  Because we’ve tried great, and it was OK for a while, given the alternatives — we didn’t want to lose the Cold War or let the Nazis win.  But Jeez, it’d be nice if we stopped drone-striking innocents, bombing foreign countries, imprisoning 1% of our own population, charging tons of money for life-saving medicine, aborting seven hundred thousand fetuses per year, and nominating and electing some of the nastiest human beings in the country because we’re afraid their opponents are somehow even worse.  (And no, this is a dig neither at Trump nor Hillary; there’s plenty of nasty politicians.)

(Most politically active people will have seized on the abortion comment in that paragraph, which is kinda my point.  For the record, I’m not anti-life or anti-choice either one. I just wish there weren’t so damn many of them.  It weighs very heavily on me.  The number is much higher according to some sources, and I’m inclined to grant them credence.)

The bottom line is this:  We right now have the opportunity to move into the twenty-first century.  We could very easily fix most of our social ills, create a decent plan for universal healthcare, end hunger, poverty, and war, and above all stop imprisoning and disenfranchising so very many of our own people.  It would be simple — painful, yes, but far better to suffer some inconvenience given the great things we could accomplish.

Instead, we’re going to spread hate and fear and distrust and paranoia and malcontent and the seeds of rebellion, because… why?

I’ll tell you plain, I don’t know any more.  I used to blame partisan politics, the endless he-said she-said bickering and party loyalty over effective leadership.  Now… now, I’m starting to think we as a country just hate ourselves.  What else could explain this?

I want to see the America I grew up believing in — a place you could be proud to call home.  The one that faced down the Evil Empire and won.  The country that invented nuclear power and solar power; the place that cured smallpox and polio; the home of the Wright Brothers, George Westinghouse, Tom Edison, Henry Ford.  And not just that:  This is the place where Einstein and Tesla both chose to come, and to honor with the fruits of their genius.

I want to see the country that was so wonderful France sent us a statue called Liberty Enlightening The World as a joint monument to the success of our revolution.  Remember the poem on her base?

…Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
-from “The New Colossus”, Emma Lazarus

I want to live in a country that’s worthy of that statue, damn it all!  I want to live in the place that inspired it, with people who can read that poem and weep and vow to be better.  God help me, I don’t want to live in a great country — I want to live in one that strives to be good and sometimes maybe even succeeds.

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