As the Republican and Democratic primaries continue, Donald Trump continues to exclaim his promise to make America great again. Last week, Donald Trump said a lot of things that can be commented on, but it is his repeated mantra to “Make America Great Again” that continues to perplex this blogger. I have so many questions now! Where did this phrase come from? When did America fall from glory? What country has replaced us?
In response to my first question, it seems that the “make America great again” phrase is one that has been used before. Although Trump has applied to trademark the slogan as his own, it was prominently used in Ronald Reagan’s 1980’s campaign. So, what was going on during this time to make Ronald Reagan want to make America great again? Well for starters, the United States was experiencing unusually high inflation rates in 1979 and then there was the historic energy crisis caused when OPEC dramatically raised oil prices. As depicted in the PBS video below, the energy crisis was so bad that the gasoline lines were legendary and the mood of the country was downright dismal.
In addition to an energy crisis in 1979 there was also the Iran hostage crisis in November 1979 that occurred when a group of Iranian Muslim students took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held more 60 Americans hostage. The students set the hostages free in January 1981 just hours after President Ronald Reagan gave his inaugural address. According to history, the United States was experiencing a lot of upheaval during the late 1970s under the President Jimmy Carter Administration and to be honest, the country was really not doing so great. So Ronald Reagan’s campaign promise to make America great again was something the country was in dire need of at that time.
Now that we know that Donald Trump did not coin the phrase, the next question is when did America recently fall from glory? According to a recent economic analysis report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, consumer spending is up, real disposable income is up, and the gross domestic product is up. Corporate profits decreased by 3.14 percent for all of 2015; however, it was up nearly 2 percent in 2014. While it can be argued that America needs to do something to improve corporate profits, we are nowhere near a crisis (so we can scratch “economic crisis” off the list). Gas prices have gone down, so we can also scratch “energy crisis” off the list as well. No economic crisis to speak of, no energy crisis, and no hostage crisis…so is there a crisis that I am missing? In a prior post titled “Is Isis a Crisis” , it was concluded that while Isis is a problem that must be dealt with, it is has not reached “crisis level” here in the United States. Trump has yet to specify what crisis is keeping America from being great but on his campaign’s website, he describes America as if it’s some developing country! Seriously, Trump as that what you think of a country that has allowed you to become a billionaire?!
The United States is clearly NOT a developing country and in fact it is defined as a high income country by the World Bank. So we can also rule out “developing country” as a reason for America not being great. Trump continues to talk about sending immigrants back, putting up a wall that will be paid for by Mexico, and banning Muslims. So is he implying that America isn’t great because of immigrants? Clarification is needed here and until it is provided, “making America great again” has the very bitter undertone of xenophobia and racism. Saturday Night Live (SNL) does a nice job of summarizing the undertone of Trump’s message in a comedic way:
Lastly, since America is no longer great and is no longer number one…what country has dethroned us? There is no information coming from the Trump campaign on just who is in the #1 spot now. Is it the United Kingdom (UK)? Probably not and in fact UK citizens started a petition to ban Donald Trump from entry into the UK and it was actually debated by parliament! Could the new #1 be Canada? Well, given Trump’s taunting of Ted Cruz for being born in Canada, probably not. And since “Islam hates us” according to Trump…the new #1 country cannot possibly be in the Middle East. Well…what about China? Trump seems to speak fondly of China and attributes their economic growth to the United States. In fact, he is quoted as saying that we (the United States) have “rebuilt China” and they are “winning” in the global market because of us. DING, DING, DING!!! We have a winner folks! However, before America cedes the “#1 country” crown to China based on Donald Trump’s words; you should be aware of one critical fact. China is a DEVELOPING COUNTRY. According to the Worldbank , China’s market reforms are incomplete and their per capita income is only a FRACTION of that in advanced countries such as the United States. So comparing the United States to China is like comparing apples to lemons…not apples and apples. To be fair, Donald Trump has not said verbatim that he thinks China is better than the United States, but he sure does seem to imply it.
The Wisconsin primary will be held tonight and it will be interesting to see how well Trump’s message of “making America great again” is resonating with voters there. Do you think his message is an accurate reflection of the mood of the entire country?
Thanks for “listening” to me whine. Hopefully my whining has made you think. If so, tell your friends/family/colleagues that you heard it through the Political Great Whine!