There it is, right before our eyes. The entire worldview of Republicans in Trump World: MAGA. The acronym says it all.
Make America Great Again.
What does that tell us? First, America isn’t great now. Second, it was great once, sometime in the past. Third, we can bring that “sometime” America into the present, thus making America great once again.
What did “sometime” America look like when it was great? Perhaps we can glean some elements of Great America by looking at Senator Rick Scott’s 11-point plan proposed as the 2022 Republican platform. Scott calls his proposal a “plan to rescue America.” By “rescue” he means “restore,” and the restoration is of that “sometime” America.
In his plan Scott calls for dismantling elements of the welfare state that presumably has turned Great America into our current society of takers. To effect his desired end to Make America Great Again, Scott proposes raising taxes on those “takers” who make less than $100,000 per year and to kick away their governmental crutches of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.
Such steps will return us to that “sometime” era when rugged individuals could make their own way up the ladder of success without needing to rely on government largesse. So, too, those rugged individuals in minority groups should do without unwarranted boosts like Affirmative Action or certain voting rights that, apparently, encourage voter fraud whose widespread or evident effect has yet to be discovered.
Other current rights also mar our nation’s greatness. Eliminating them will move us back to our “sometime” future. Our Great America didn’t have abortion rights or a right to birth control. It didn’t have interracial marriage or same-sex marriage. What are all of those but signs of a depraved and misguided nation, where freedom is misunderstood as what individuals, decidedly not rugged, want rather than what our fundamentalist clergies preach?
“Sometime” America had schools where the curricula reflected America’s greatness — our expansion over Native American lands; our understanding that although mistakes were made, our exceptionalism permitted, even as our history texts gloss over, genocide, slavery, segregation, mistreatment of minorities, and denial of equal opportunity; our victories in wars large and small; and our athletic successes where a few minorities could show what any American could do with a little gumption.
America’s middle class “sometime” ago was thriving. Did unions protect jobs and industries, thereby helping that middle class grow? Of course not. Unions stood in the way of unleashing America’s great economic engine. So, let’s get back to that America of the 50’s and 60’s, but without pesky unions, without safe pensions, without workers’ compensation or safety standards, and without whiny demands for “a living wage.”
And while we’re at it, let’s restore Americans’ freedom by removing restrictions on Wall Street; by eliminating the EPA that tells us where we can dump our chemical, nuclear, and farm waste; by limiting a government that wants to issue mandates on health and safety. As Ron Johnson, Wisconsin’s Republican senator, revealed recently: Once Republicans regain control of Congress and the White House, they’ll eliminate Obamacare, that socialist government program that, to date, has provided an additional 31 million Americans with health coverage, has prevented 100 million Americans from being denied health coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and has lowered prescription drug prices for 12 million seniors, while also enabling the young to stay on their parents’ health coverage until the kids turn 26.
Let’s return to the America when we were free to carry guns however we want and wherever we please, free to ride motorcycles without helmets, free to ride in cars without restraints, and free to drive our gas-guzzlers without needing to hear anyone plead about saving the planet.
Save the planet? Climate change? Such ideas didn’t exist in “sometime” America. Rather, it was a time of what Mike Pence gives us in his own 2022 version of the Republican Party platform — the “Freedom Agenda” — which Pence recently introduced as an outline for his own possible presidential run. Republicans can sigh in relief, since Pence proposes “sometime” favorites such as fast-tracking permits for oil and gas production and expanding drilling offshore and on federal lands. Pence will do away with policies that keep us “unfree” such as abortions, transgender athletes, invasions by immigrants, and protections of federal lands.
America is Great when Americans decide for themselves, unless those decisions involve pregnancies, involve marriages and love relationships, involve voting, or intrude into a host of areas that white men are better at deciding for all of us. In “sometime” America, those white men will tell us when they need to make our decisions, all done in the name of freedom.
Of course, whatever time you choose as your favored “sometime” America, there are going to be “drawbacks” — women without suffrage, without the power to sign contracts, trapped inside the home; minorities denied equal access to public spaces, private establishments, jobs, or housing; and that obvious patriarchal hierarchy, mentioned above, where white men dominate. Wait, are those really “drawbacks”? Isn’t this as America should be, because that’s when America was Great?
Bear in mind that the Republican Party platform on which Trump and his fellow Republicans ran in 2020 was…blank. The platform was whatever Trump wanted. Really. Now, Rick Scott has offered his “rescue plan” and Mike Pence, second always but never to be outdone, offers his “Freedom Agenda.”
Rest assured, as you look at these agendas and at what Republicans are doing and saying across the country, everything they want is in these plans or in Trump’s head. All of it is carried on the front of Trump’s favorite prop. Put the vehicle in reverse and head back to the future. That’s how we Make America Great Again.