Donald Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again!” It’s a sign of fear, anger, and a direct result of trickle down economics that this slogan even resonates with anyone. It’s also unnecessary. America is great.
Why is Trump so successfully tapping into this vein of fear, then? What reasons do Americans have to feel any fear at all? There are plenty of things to fear, but many of those things have always existed! First, global tensions are ever present. China and North Korea play a strong rhetoric game. ISIS is a formidable and difficult enemy. Russia continues to play games in Syria. The list goes on. Yet, I don’t think the fears are based on global issues as much as they are domestic concerns. Global issues like these are not new, and they usually serve as a rallying point for the country. The fact that they aren’t today bespeaks of a country that is worn out fighting wars over seas.
There are plenty of domestic fears that Trump has tapped into. First, and easiest to reference is the rise of minorities. Let’s be real here: Trumps’ claims that the Mexicans coming into the United States illegally are the dredges of Mexican society are just wrong. Sure, it’s likely that some are coming into the U.S. to traffic drugs and escape prosecution in Mexico (don’t some U.S. citizens go to Mexico for the same purposes?), but most illegal Mexican immigrants are here trying to make a better life for themselves. It’s the same reason that my ancestors came to the U.S.! Should they have been stopped? Should a giant wall really be built?
Further, Trump has tapped into a fear around religion. He would have the United States bar Muslims from entry. Are we so frightened of ISIS that we would bar all Muslims? That’s giving a terrorist group a lot of credit. We all know that most Muslims are not radical, right? This Pew survey says that the vast majority of Muslims around the world do not believe in or support suicide bombings and extremism. Further, the U.S. has an extreme vetting system already in place for Muslim immigrants. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s darn near perfect.
Underneath it all, I think the biggest fear that Trump has tapped into is related to the economy. Traditional manufacturing jobs have disappeared; replaced by workers over seas and, just as commonly, technology. Jobs that once supported entire families are gone. That’s a hard reality to deal with. Even more difficult to wrap one’s head around is the huge shift in wealth.
According to the Allianz’s Global Wealth Report 2015, the U.S. holds 41.6% of the world’s wealth. That’s huge! The next highest country was China at just 10.5% of the world’s wealth. Take a minute to think about that disparity! Why on Earth would any of us in the United States complain about the economy? Oh, wait… I may be able to answer that. That same report also said that the U.S. had the most wealth inequality with a calculation of 80.56 (where 0 is perfect equality and 100 is perfect inequality).
Clearly, the Trickle Down effect doesn’t work. For those who may not know, the Trickle Down effect is the idea that if you allow the richest people to grow richer, the wealth will trickle down as the rich people create more jobs. This is actually a fairly entrenched idea in the U.S., but it’s been proven false. Wealth does not trickle down. The rich just get richer and the poor just get poorer, while the economy has a whole suffers. Researchers have even calculated that when the richest 20% of society increase their income by one percentage point, the annual rate of growth shrinks by nearly 0.1% within five years. Why would the economy shrink? As the poor lose their share of the wealth, they struggle to pay for education and health care, which obviously hurts society as a whole.
All of these negative things are happening, and yet, I claim that America is still great. How could it not be? The American people make America great. We are an enterprising, hopeful people. We dream big, and we have high expectations. We live in a society where someone like me (a woman) can strive to have it all. We’ve had dark periods throughout our history where the economy skewed towards the rich and we were deeply embattled at home and globally, but we’ve always come out swinging and better than ever. Why would now be any different?
This past weekend I was moved to tears as I watched 4 different groups of St. Jude runners go by. These are people who are running miles upon miles to raise money for the St. Jude hospitals so that the sickest children in the world receive the medical care that they deserve. How can a country that is so full of kind, generous people not be great?
Donald Trump cannot “Make America Great Again.” In many ways, he represents the worst pieces of America (upper class elitist who has moved jobs overseas while selling gambling, booze, and strip clubs). The collective people of the United States is what makes America great.
Note: I don’t care if you vote for Trump or Hillary. This is not a blog post designed to build animosity towards Trump. It’s really not even intended to be a political post. I just don’t understand how anyone could think that this great big, beautiful country of ours isn’t great!