Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

On the Greatness of America

I’m tired of hearing candidates blather about “making America great again.” America—the United States—is already great by the standards they approve of, those being wealth and power.

By those standards, the United States is still the greatest of great powers. Our economy, despite its flaws, is still the richest on Earth. Our military, despite its challenges, is still the most effective, best armed, best trained, and best led fighting force in the world.

If the proposal were only to strengthen the economy or improve our armed forces efficiency, I could hardly object, although I think we should do more. Instead, what I see is a pervasively destructive and backward-tending set of policies in the offing.

Looking at the agenda of the more extreme neo-conservatives, it is clear that what they want is to go back to the 19th Century: to dismantle not only the accomplishments of Franklin Roosevelt, but also those of THEODORE Roosevelt.

By doing away with economic and industrial regulation, they would return us to the era when Trusts controlled the market place, and rich men and their companies could do as they pleased, and there were no such things as environmental protections or health and safety regulations. When workers had no rights, and could be beaten and killed by company goons with impunity.

They want to take us back to a day when women and children were property, and blacks, Latinos, Asians, and non-Christians were third class citizens if they were allowed to be citizens at all.
These policies do not promote greatness, they erode greatness. There is more to being a great nation than just wealth and might. A great nation also demonstrates magnanimity, charity, compassion, intellectual curiosity, and reverence for culture. At its best, the United States has all these qualities. When we are injured or fearful, like any people, we draw inward and become defensive, but we should not take counsel of our fears.

The program that is offered us to “make America great again” is fearful, insular, bullying, stingy, mean Know-Nothing-ism. When we have thrown away all our freedoms for the illusion of safety, and when we have built walls around the country and locked the gates, what will the United States be, but a larger North Korea? That is not “greatness” by any measure I understand.

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Tags: politics
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