Making America "Great" Again
Updated: Oct 11
By: Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Originally Published (via Facebook) on June 23, 2017; Updated and Republished on September 25, 2022
On June 23, 2017, Natalie S. Lehman and I co-wrote and published an article on my Facebook page titled, “Making America 'Great' Again.” Natalie Lehman’s father, Lt. Colonel Paul Lehman, Jr., was a member of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. He is featured on this website in an article titled, “Lt. Colonel Paul David Lehman, Jr.: An American Military Hero.”
What Does MAGA Really Means?
What started out as Donald J. Trump’s campaign slogan in his successful run for the American presidency in 2016 has now morphed into a nationwide movement that is engulfing the Republican Party in Trumpism. “Make America Great Again” or “MAGA” is a mantra that inspires pride and excitement in many Americans, while provoking feelings of fear and anxiety in others.
In a 2017 Washington Post article, former president Bill Clinton suggested that this slogan is nothing more than a racist dog whistle. “I’m actually old enough to remember the good old days, and they weren’t all that good in many ways,” he said at a rally in Orlando. “… if you’re a white Southerner, you know exactly what it means, don’t you?”
Essentially, the MAGA slogan is a political rally cry for white male supporters -- many of whom feel they’re losing power within their country… It’s not just economic power -- white men have lost political clout and social power, too.
As noted by well-known economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, white males accounted for seven of ten suicides in 2015, and death rates have been rising dramatically since 1999. This suicide figure remains at 70% today. These "deaths of despair" by suicide, drugs and alcohol are related to the weakening of their conventional societal positions. White males have fewer options and opportunities for work; their marriages are less stable than ever before; and the sense of community that used to build them up and enable them to thrive, is deteriorating.
Pain and distress build up over time, ultimately leading to a social collapse -- at least in their traditional world. The white males in this group seem to have lost a sense of status and belonging, which are classic preconditions for suicide.
This sense of entitlement, which white males feel is under attack (a sentiment birthed the moment Obama was elected to the White House), stems from a long history of preferential treatment toward white males, which we all know dates back to ancient times.
White Male Privilege is Eroding in America
Throughout history, individuals, tribes and nations have chased lofty ideals. Our time honored American ideals suggest that we are living in the best country on the planet and that we hold high the principles of freedom, equality and opportunity for all. But we know the truth -- that the history of this country has been riddled with schemes that sounded noble and virtuous, at least on the surface. At the end of the day, their only intended purpose was to award an avalanche of benefits to white European immigrants and their progeny.
Thus, at the same time this country’s founders were espousing noble principles, they were aggressively grabbing land and valuables while exterminating native Americans and enslaving people of color who were brought here from Africa. In short, they denied and seized the rights, property and lives of human beings.
During the pinnacle of the patriarchy in the United States, which was interestingly supported by both the church and the legal system, half of the population -- women -- was denied the privileges and powers afforded to white males. Before 1865, a mere 157 years ago, ninety percent of blacks in America were slaves. As such, they were denied every freedom historically enjoyed by white males. The pre-European Native-American population, roughly estimated to be 60 million people, was reduced to less than 306,000 in the United States by 1880.
Having eliminated, legally and physically, a large section of people, white men competed only against themselves, a relatively small group, often made even more exclusive behind the closed doors of private clubs and brotherhoods. Many of their acquisitions were not earned, but were gifts, like the Spanish land grant offers -- not a gifting of empty land, but land already home to other people. All the while, the new nation’s founders wrote their own “greatness” into their own his-stories.
Now, we are at a new crossroads. As the old paradigm unravels, our political and social structures are beginning to decay along with it. The industrial revolution has ended, and blue-collar jobs are mostly obsolete because products are either machine-made or foreign-made.
Over the centuries, women and people of color have risen up in sustained excellence for true equality. Many have proven time and time again their intellect, their enduring work ethic, their patriotism, and their core of human decency, despite having to labor twice as hard in mostly hostile work environments.
Where does this leave the white male? Men, even those kind and inclusive men, knew they were eating the desserts from an unjust way of life.
White Male Anger and Hopelessness
When a sense of “greatness” proves false and those once-enjoyed privileges and entitlements start to erode, people feel lost, gutted, empty, hopeless and angry. Infantile, destructive behavior ensues. We have seen this desperation all over the news with mass shootings, the rise of white militias like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, and the January 2, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
We have also witnessed the MAGA-dominated U.S. Supreme Court swiftly roll back the constitutional rights of women, blacks, and Native-Americans to their pre-1865 status.
Old strategies and old behaviors triggered the crumbling of the “old” world. We have seen how suffocating oppression, racial separation, blind ambition, narrow-minded selfishness, and unbridled personal and corporate greed have damaged the American ideal. We cannot “Make America Great Again” by retreating to those outdated dreams and strategies, even if they are stated more loudly, arrogantly, powerfully, and exclusively. Ultimately, we all have to change, unify and roll up our sleeves to get along if we hope to attain any semblance of true greatness -- greatness built upon a level playing field and mutual respect for all Americans.
The only alternative to greatness built upon a level playing field and mutual respect for all Americans is the destruction of America's institutions of democracy. This appears to be the political agenda of today’s “white Christian Nationalists” and extreme MAGA Republicans.
The more radical MAGA zealots are calling: (a) defunding the FBI, (b) violence against the federal judiciary, (c) a Second Civil War; (d) a total ban on abortions, (e) white "minority rule," backed by armed militias, (f) a geo-political alliance with fascist Hungarian strongman, Viktor Orbán, and (g) the election of Donald J. Trump in 2024, by any and all means necessary.
The perceived MAGA enemies are mainstream media organizations, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Democratic Party.
The perceived MAGA global allies are Russian President Vladimir Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
It remains to be seen whether America will be able to survive the MAGA movement and its “old-school” political agenda.
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