We Must Stand

Since November 8, 2016, it feels as though 10 years have passed in the United States.

Last Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the election of President Donald Trump. In just one year, our country now stands facing rampant racism and sexual misconduct while leaving progress to die.

Despite the chants of “Make America Great Again,” a Gallup poll shows President Trump at a 34 percent approval rating.

On average, President Barack Obama had a 46.9 percent approval. President George W. Bush had a 49.4 percent approval, and President Bill Clinton had a 55.1 percent approval.

According to modern standards, Trump has the worst rating since President Harry Truman pulled the country out of the Korean War, and President Richard Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal.

And yet we continue to hear, “Make America Great Again.” 

President Trump before a speech. Photo provided by Gage Skipmore White  House Flickr
President Trump before a speech. Photo provided by Gage Skipmore White House Flickr

It would be easy to simply criticize the president for all of his wrongdoings and his assortment of dumb statements. I could lay them all out in front of you. We could either relish or debate on how insane the world has become.

But life never asks us to take the easy route. For the most part, those who take the easy road, are quicker to fall.

Since the 2016 election, I have struggled with my faith in the American public and where our principles lie. All of the asinine things done and said aside, it is the sheer lack of respect towards democracy that this administration has shown that makes me question everything.

After some thought, I realized this skepticism towards our way of life may be healthy in a way.

As I sit alone, thinking about President Trump, his slogan keeps floating to the front of my mind.

Why does it continue to resonate as much as it has?

What does it say about our country?

How did we come from a moderate form of liberalism to outright nationalist conservatism?

By chance, I picked up a few books from the local library about history and philosophy and I stumbled upon something.

Arthur Schlesinger is an American historian who taught at Harvard in the early 20th century. Schlesinger developed a theory about American politics called the Cyclical Theory. This theory states that the political structure of the United States works as a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to the other, giving us moderate presidents in the middle who are either admired or forgotten.

Even as I read these words, the phrase keeps coming back to my mind, “Make America Great Again.” It shouts louder as my anxiety grows.

My next book was The Reagan Diaries. What I discovered was interesting.

This phrase that never seems to silence, is just a rehash of something said by President Reagan in the 1980’s.

“For those who’ve abandoned hope,” it read, “we’ll restore hope. We’ll welcome them into a great national crusade to make America great again.”

President Bill Clinton called the phrase a “racist dog whistle,” saying only white Southerners would understand.

Back in 2012, I had hope for the future yet to be told. Progressive thought wasn’t discouraged, and it sure as hell wasn’t valued more than gold.

We took these ideas for granted and assumed that our way of life was something secured by time: there wasn’t a chance it could crack or rupture. But, much like any good machinery, it needs to be maintained.

Here is the thing: I believe Donald Trump when he tells his rallies that he wants to “make America great again.” I believe that he believes what he is doing is the right thing. Much like anyone, we all believe what we are doing is right until corrected.

What is the difference between you, me and the president?

The difference is that you and I can take criticism and manage it into a means of productivity. This is something foreign to President Trump.

Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” As a lover of history, it feels as though our current president is a mixture of George Wallace and Richard Nixon, with a Reagan mask to calm the nerves of his constituents.

Or, in lighter terms, we’ve elected the conman with a magic elixir to cure all of the problems of the world. What we’re tasting now is the elixir made from nothing more than bigotry, greed, and a touch of urine.

Since “Make America Great Again” was shoved into the limelight once again, I’ve been asking myself, when was America great according to the president?

Was it during the time when civil rights for African Americans and the LGBT community were suppressed?

Was it about the time when the United States was thrusted into a world war and we focused our might on military and industrial power?

Or perhaps was it a time not seen in American history, in which the president rules over all and nobody questions their leader?

If this is the America you wish to make great, I’ll remain in the filth.

And yet, people call for President Trump to, “Make America Great Again.”

After careful thought, I’ve come to a conclusion.

Mr. President, I agree with you. You will make America great again.

I remember as child talking to my father about how good always overcomes evil. He told me, “Sometimes what people need is for reality to slap them across the mouth and show them the way.”

Well, America, here is the slap you never realized you needed.

Since the beginning of Trump’s administration, this nation has taken a crash course in civics, and had the notion to read books more.

For example, when Kellyanne Conway came onto Meet The Press with Chuck Todd on MSNBC to talk about Sean Spicer lying to the public, she coined a new political term.

“Our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to these claims, but the point remains…” Conway said.

Within four days of the interview, Amazon sales for George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 skyrocketed in sales by 9,500 percent.

Amid the sexual misconducts of people in power, including the president, Margaret Atwoods’ novel The Handmaid’s Tale increased sales by almost 1,000 percent.

Everywhere across the country, families and friends are forced to talk about the nature of the world where we live. We have to talk about what the country means, as well as what can we do to ensure that the American dream does not die in darkness.

President Herbert Hoover in the early 1900’s drove the country into the ground, with little to no remorse. The country was revived by Franklin D. Roosevelt and his progressive ideas. He brought us back from the brink.

Protests in front of building. Photo by Canva
Protests in front of building. Photo by Canva

By no means am I saying that we are at the level of desperation equal to the Great Depression. I would equate it more to a more radical form of Watergate.

I believe President Trump will accomplish his biggest goal in making America great again.

He will show us the way towards something we must avoid. We can strive to be better than the filth spread across the White House.

As the cracks begin to form underneath the Trump foundation, let us not forget about the perseverance of the American people.

We, as Americans, have endured the fires of war and chaos, of uncertain freedoms, and yet we stand.

We, as Americans, have seen scandals tear powerful people to the ground, and yet we stand.

We, as Americans, have seen the worst humanity has to offer, and yet we stand.

So what must we do in these uncertain times?

We must stand.

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