Although we do not regularly acknowledge it, for many of us who are in our early to mid-20s, we are the last of the “house phone generation.” We are the last of those who did not spend the entirety of our everyday lives surrounded by technology. We are the last of those not connected to devices every day. The social implications of this reality are arguably the reasons why things are increasingly being said and done in modern times without any regard for the real world repercussions of these words and actions.
As a political operative for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign on the ground in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, I decided to do my best to fight for sensible leadership in such a world because I understood the risks of having a socially and emotionally incompetent president as the leader of this great nation. When Donald Trump won the election in November 2017, despite the man that he had shown us all to be, I wanted to believe that his administration would appreciate the gravity of their newly elected and appointed positions.
I was so damn wrong.
The election of 45 almost decidedly made the reality of identity politics in America ‘right versus wrong’ in a world where it was just ‘Democrat versus Republican’ before. Differences in philosophy have very quickly shifted to differences in morality. Every “Make America Great Again” hat is a loud vote for discrimination. A loud rallying cry to all who support the rhetoric plastered on the hats to ‘make America hate again.’
Admittedly, I never understood the MAGA slogan as anything but a blatantly coded message of white supremacy. When I would ask Trump supporters what the phrase meant, none could really give me any definitive elements of what it would take to make America great. The usage of the word “again” especially bewilders me because it implies that we must go back to some period in this nation’s history where things were better. My biggest problem is that I can think of no such time period.
Challenge yourself to interrogate this concept and think about a time when America has been better than it is right now in terms of social progress, even with an unqualified Trump leading the way. Should we go back to the time when thousands of Native Americans were slaughtered for occupying lands that they had called home for generations? Should we go back to a time when LGBTQ existence was unacknowledged because of how much of a societal taboo it was? Should we go back to the time when women were powerless accessories to society if they were without a man to represent them? How about taking a visit to the days of slavery or the viciousness of the Jim Crowe era that saw many people of color mistreated on a systemic level?
Our America is more progressive now than it has ever been and even still, we have so far to go. There is a divide between police and black and brown communities that needs to be addressed in order to make America great. There are members of the LGBTQ community still fighting in 2018 to enjoy their right to peaceably exist and live life on their own terms. There are women in 2018 still fighting for the right to make the same wages as their male counterparts for the same work. Equality must be established in order to make America great. There are hardworking immigrants in 2018 that are fighting for their right to enjoy the American dream free of persecution. There are Muslims in 2018 that are fighting for their right to peacefully practice their religion in light of post-911 xenophobia and the sensationalism of such by even some of our top government officials. Acceptance must happen for America to be great. When all of these things have begun to happen, we can finally make America great for once.
Ironically enough, Donald Trump stands in stark opposition to all of the things that could actually make America great. Equality and acceptance aren’t the kinds of words that come to mind when I’m forced to think of a man who has disrespected and offended so many different groups of people. Just recently, he referred to a set of very noble nations as “shithole countries.” That’s spicy talk from a guy who’s doing his very best to turn this great nation into a shithole country with his tweets, divisive rhetoric, and blatant disregard for the level of decorum and honor professionally required of the office he holds.