If this whole mantra all sounds a little confusing in light of the facts, that's because it is.
I was asking myself this same question over a year ago when rump was campaigning. Why wasn’t anyone calling him out on it back then?
Always great to hear from Ralph.
Yes indeed, what do our political words mean? Not just an issue for philosophers and ivory tower academicians, for if the public was paying attention it would notice that most of the political rhetoric is empty of socially responsible meaning and full of contradictions, lies, irrationality, secrecy and bald-faced power. Politics denies historical facts daily and continues with traditions that perpetuate the problems ‘leaders’ pledge to resolve. Mental health professionals call this psychosis and madness. Others call it socialized insanity, because we are taught to embrace ignorance and lies, and many do so for the duration of their lives. They even vote for it.
Since America was never truly great, it, like other countries recently born, is saddled with facing its own distorted, aggressive, autocratic, dominating ideologies. Mainstream politics refuses to do this while denying this is so. Trump didn’t invent depravity, though he is doing a great job embellishing it.
Then, he pretends he is doing otherwise. That is the accurate meaning.
Till democracy is born, and politicians and bureaucrats are held fully and stringently accountable, till the economy serves all people and human rights, justice and peace are firmly in place, we must strive to become humans rather than acting like animals. Meaning is crucial - find it and protect it.
Considering his campaign was based on racism and bigotry the phrase must refer in some way to a time when white people were more dominant than today. Certainly it must mean back to some time before affirmative action. For Evangelicals it probably means at least back to the time when Protestants were a majority of the country and they had much more political power.
Simple slogans for and from simple minds. The less definitive the better.
The 30% or so (and falling) of the electorate that seem convinced/brainwashed DJT is somehow a positive force for “greatness” even given his record of utter contempt for them, peoples health & welfare, environment, Common Good or world stability & peace may be beginning to wake-up from their gullibility - the focus of the great pumpkin is on self-interest and aggrandizement - the world of his own mental illness -, greed, exploitation, and profits above all else, and that MO of a malignant mind has not, and never will be, “great” - neither will anything he touches - his penchant for saying things twice does not make them double in meaning, less deceptive, or even marginally true.
Simple minds demand/use simple slogans so they will not have to think too much…if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS…
Because, if you recall, any criticism of Trump through most of 2016 among those on the left, including here on Common Dreams would result on torrents of vitriol directed at the Trump-critic for being a “shill for Hillary”. Ralph Nader would himself would have been attacked for writing this article. Come to think of it, Nader was attacked for being a “Shill for Hillary-Killary” by way of criticizing Trump - as was Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and yours truly…
If those of us on the radical left do not remember those days of “Lord-of-the-Flies” mass-insanity among many of our members, we will be condemned to repeating them.
Thank you Ralph, for an excellent essay pointing out all of the contradictions and hypocrisy inherent in this essentially meaningless slogan. MAGA so perfectly illustrates the vapidity of the one who chants it. It means anything, everything or nothing, depending on the interpretation of whoever hears it or says it.
I think the America First slogan may have a clearer meaning, particularly to his white nationalist base. That slogan has a history.
Trump and his followers want to take America back to an imaginary land where the husband rules over his submissive wife, and all those colored people are expelled to the South and walled off. Regressively delusional at best.
Trump’s campaign choreographers based the “Make Murka great agin” on Hitler’s success in rallying krauts to “restore Deutschland to its former glory”.
When I lived in Deutschland forty years ago many krauts expressed dislike for Hitler ONLY because he lost WWII. That was more than three decades after Hitler died, so don’t expect Trump’s followers to change their minds within the lifetime of anybody reading this article today.
Just as Hitler’s supporters were never willing to admit they were wrong, Trump’s supporters will never admit they are wrong, even after many of them are residing beneath bridges after being deluged by yellow trickle down.
The question Ralph Nader poses is for those that can think critically—those that are not ruled by egocentric, narcissistic pathologies as is Trump and his followers.
How many of Trump’s base would explore this question with historical facts? How many people that live in the u.s. care to learn the truth?
“Columbus Day” is still on the f—ing MacBook calendar that I have. I can’t delete it!
This question is an important question to keep posing given so many do not want to acknowledge the foundation of this country and the resultant cruel oligarchy that we are witnessing today---- very aptly described by Gabriel Rockhill in this piece:
Trump is appealing to the lowest common denominator and could care less about anything except that which feeds his ego and (offshore)bank accounts.
With that said, it is an important question that needs to be examined by everyone. Everyone. I’m not optimistic that this will happen.
Trump is the symptom of the fatal disease in the u.s. that appears to be in stage 5.
The Make America Great Again slogan only makes sense within the context of Trumps’ dark fictionalized view of the US which he has conveyed in his speeches. That fictional US has declined with crime rates at all time time highs, potential Muslim terrorists everywhere, undocumented Hispanic immigrants committing horrible crimes all over the place, China taking advantage of the US at every turn, a weak military led by incompetent generals, black neighborhoods all completely crime ridden, and landscape totally littered with empty factories. That is Trump’s dystopian America which amounts to another scam. The real America, while far from perfect, is nothing like that.
You’re right on the money. Instead of France’s motto of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, our motto, under Trump, might as well be: Celebrity, vapidity, idiocy.
Thanks for the link. Heres a Hume quote that opens his book Counter History of the Present:
Nothing appears more surprizing to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical
eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission,
with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we
enquire by what means this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as force is always on the
side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on
opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and
most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.
— David Hume
The “opinion” Hume refers to is formed and spread via ever more sophisticated propaganda that has now made facts one of the many enemies that only the fascists spreading the propaganda can protect their followers from.
Confusing my sweet patootie! It is and always was as bogus as a $3,000 bill, or the snake oil hawked by the covered wagon “preachers” of the Wild West, or Nicki Haley’s case for war against Iran (same as Powell’s for war against Iraq), or Ajit Pai’s ravings about the benefits of turning the internet over to private corporations, when the legislative mandate that created the FCC explicitly to protect the public from the predations of Big Money.
It would be hard to pick an exact time that the Dumpster Fire might be referring to. Mr. Nader certainly selected many periods from American history that were great for one reason or another that Dump could consider great for his purposes and reasoning that might have been an ideal time for him or his family. Unfortunately, to recreate times when things were great for the Dumpsters and his appointed thieves would require times to be not so great for a large majority of people in the U.S or the world. Dump’s numerous appointments to his cabinet have an agenda to destroy programs and benefits that helped many citizens at various times in their lives. Will Dump’s planned tax overhaul make things great for anyone other than the most affluent? The pennies in tax cuts won’t make things great for most, especially since way over a trillion will soon be added to the deficit which means the 99% will end up being expected to finance that with their trickled down windfall.
The Republicans who are frothing over trying to give Dumpster a tax bill to sign before Christmas should be ashamed of what they are doing. This WON’T make America great again, quite the opposite since it gives the largest benefits to the least needy while the deficit continues to consume needed cash that could have otherwise been used to grow the economy of the U.S…
That would be a good question for Huckabee. Ask her what drumpf sees as being great and when was it that he considers America to have been great once. It would give Kellyanne and Sarah acid indigestion.
Bob Altemeyer makes a pretty decent attempt at explaining how people like Hitler and Trump are able to influence and maintain their followers, and why these people blindly follow. They have other leaders besides Trump but as long as these other leaders do not reach a consensus on a replacement for Trump they will mostly remain loyal to Trump. Altemeyer’s book is available for a free download from https://theauthoritarians.org.
I see Trump’s supporters as being basically decent people. They have a consensus on a plan and want to build it and make it work. And they have a consensus on who is to make the decisions on the plan and have difficulty with changing the plan and want stability and predictability. Mostly they are responsible people who I would enjoy socializing with. Altemeyer has demonstrated that they are a quarter to a third of the population. A third of the population that agrees on a plan is difficult to go against. I suspect that it is less important to them what the plan is than that they see it as a stable consensus that is acceptable to those people who they accept as their leaders. I also think that after WWII and until the time of Johnson that they accepted that the New Deal was part of the plan, and thus the Elites could not begin to touch the New Deal reforms until this third of the population was willing to drop it from their consensus.
Drew Westin in “The Political Brain” posits that 85 per cent of voters do so for emotional reasons, the basis of which was laid down when they were young people becoming politically aware. That means that we received not only DNA from our parents, but also some political baggage. If a politician’s position on an issue conflicts with the emotions, the emotions win hands down every time. The emotional issues that he identified were abortions, same-sex marriages and hand guns. He missed race—George Herbert Walker Bush’s Willie Horton against Michael Dukakis and Ronald Reagan’s Cadillac welfare queens who drove their Cads to pick up their food stamps. Moreover, he said that conservatives understand that and use it very effectively; progressives don’t get it.
In 2007, our economy went off the rails because G.W. Bush had appointed Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, apostles of bank deregulation to the Treasury Department, and they deregulated the banks to make all of those sub-prime loans, resulting in 7 million foreclosures. Many people who had had comfortable middleclass jobs were now poverty stricken. If their homes had not been foreclosed, they were now underwater, and they were working two and three jobs at entry level wages. The above is why Trump’s “make America great again” resonated and won him the presidency.
Now we are being told that unemployment is down and that the economy is recovering. But wages have stagnated, and the wealth of the upper .001 per cent has soared and will soar even higher with the wonderful tax cuts that Trump is promising.