“Make America Great Again”
For a year now, I’ve puzzled over that last word. What “again” was Mr. Trump referring to?
Was it the early 20th century, when my Grandpa immigrated from Russia to New York and built a modest business for himself before retiring to Florida?
Was it when my Dad and Mom, though divorced, raised two kids while making careers for themselves, him with a lifetime at a single company and her in self-owned businesses?
Was it a decade or so ago when I was hired by a company of a self-made billionaire who believed sharing the profits was more valuable than hoarding them and by whose policies I managed to build a comfortable life for myself?
After yesterday’s “foreign” policy speech, superficially aimed at ISIS, I believe I’ve identified the era to which Mr. Trump’s “Again” refers to.
Back in 1950, a relatively new Senator named Joe McCarthy began a campaign to “protect” America from the Red Peril, the insidious ever-encroaching threat of communism.
In the pursuit of his holy quest, he empowered the House Un-American Activities Commission (HUAC) to work as a de facto intimidation weapon against those people who “clearly” were against the American way of life.
It’s an infamous time in our history, where neighbor turned on neighbor and anyone with a grudge found a means to destroy the reputation and lives of anyone else, regardless of fact. Rumor and distrust ruled the period.
And it appears that “great” time can come “again”.
Using almost identical rhetoric as Senator McCarthy (with the names changed to reflect the times), Mr. Trump tries to stoke so much fear in American citizens that they will “again” look to their neighbor with suspicion first and approve of his outrageous idea to “test” people on ideological values such as religion and beliefs.
He even parallels the “communist influence” theme by insinuating spurious conspiracies about his election opponent and the sitting President (while denying his own possible ties to a very real threat).
Americans are and always should be better than that. Freedom, whether it is the right for distressed Americans to dislike the government or the right of the press to question a dangerously divisive candidate, is a gift we all gratefully share.
Though there are serious social and economic problems to solve, America stands at the top of the world in freedom and prosperity. For more than a year, Mr. Trump has rained hateful rhetoric upon that mountaintop and the slope now looks very slippery.
Joe would be proud.