"Make America great again."
It's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Regardless of how you feel about "The Donald," you've got to admit it's catchy. When it comes to American politics, don't underestimate the power of a good campaign slogan! (Remember "Yes we can!"? Whatever that means to you, it ended up meaning a win for Obama in 2008.)
The other aspect of a good campaign slogan is that it can mean whatever you want it to mean, making it feel personal to a wide range of people. If you've been fed up with X,Y, or Z recently, you may feel that "making American great again" will solve your problems. While "Yes we can," ambiguous as it was, offered a sense of hope to the disenfranchised.
The wording is very important here. For example, simply "Make America Great" doesn't have nearly the same ring. Why not? Because it wouldn't appeal to the dissatisfied masses who feel that something needs to change. (Almost regardless of whether that change is good or bad, but that's a topic for another day.) It also appeals to the nostalgia we all have for some shining past moment of glory when our country was (presumably) greater than it is today.
However, genius as this slogan is, I have a couple of problems with it.
We have more freedoms than almost any other country in the world. We are free (to some degree) to grow our own food (or at least choose where our food comes from and how it is raised), to take responsibility for our own health and well-being, to protect ourselves and our families, and to speak our minds - even to our politicians and leaders.
But even more bothersome to me is the fact that its intention is to make people think the only way to make their country "great again" is to elect a politician (and one that, without a doubt, is about as far out of touch with the modern-day realities of most American citizens as it is possible to be).
The slogan, at its heart, is designed to bring about a mass delusion that some elected leader is going to solve all of our problems, fix what is broken, and take care of all of our various needs. And this, my friends, is quite dangerous. This type of mass delusion is what made the Holocaust possible - as well as numerous other periods in human history that we look back on with horror and say, "I would never let that happen!"
Well, guess what? You have an opportunity - and even, I would say - an obligation - not to let it happen again.
By thinking for yourself. By realizing that you are the only one who can "fix" your own life. By taking responsibility for the way you live, and the way you treat others. By making better choices than our forefathers did. And by taking the initiative to stop injustice and abuse when you see it happening around you.
But most of all, you can "make America great again" by responsibly exercising your freedoms, rather than abusing them. Indeed, if there is a reason why America is now not as "great" as she once was, I believe that reason is abuse of freedom.
Hate speech, bullying, and trolling are rampant everywhere - especially on the internet (just look at just about any forum or comments section on any website anywhere for examples) - abuse of our freedom of speech. Mass shootings and hate crimes are now commonplace in the U.S. (abuse of our right to bear arms). Obesity and obesity-related disease is at an all-time high (abuse of our right to eat anything we want - although not a constitutional right, we certainly treat it as such)!
We all get so fired up about our "rights," we forget an essential part of those rights: the fact that those rights were designed to be personal rights - and NOT to infringe on the rights of others!
While the constitution gives us the right to bear arms, this right is supposed to be specifically for protection. Conversely, shouldn't we also have the right to enjoy a night out at a club with our friends, or a movie with our significant other, without the risk of being shot? (In case you were fuzzy on that, that, too, is a constitutional right - as in, the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.")
The right to freedom of speech means we can express our opinions without fear of repercussions from the government - we are free to speak out against oppression - that is what the First Amendment is supposed to give us! It does not give us the right to belittle others, spew hatred and bigotry, or promote hate crimes!
One of my favorite lines from a movie is from Spiderman: "With great power comes great responsibility." While I love this quote, I would like to make one small change to this, and have everyone in America tattoo this on the backs of their hands:
"With great freedom comes great responsibility."
It's time to take responsibility for our actions, and stop waiting for some politician to come along and solve all of our problems.
If we truly respect and value our precious freedoms, then we need to treat them responsibly. We need to appreciate them, instead of abusing them. We need to keep in mind that our freedoms do NOT give us the right to infringe the rights of others, and that we are all equal in the eyes of God.
When we all treat others as we would wish to be treated, and respect their freedoms as much as we claim to respect our own, then, and only then, can we truly make American great again. Or rather, make America greater than ever.
I hope that you celebrate all of our wonderful freedoms this Independence Day, but I also hope you will seriously consider and remember the responsibilities that come with these freedoms.
Despite all of the campaign promises, YOU - the American citizen - by responsible and judicious use of your freedoms, combined with compassion, tolerance, and love for others - are the only one who can truly "Make America great again."