|1957-1963. The Good Old Days,|
when issues like race relations, inequality,
and social injustice just didn't exist.
What does it mean to “Make America Great Again” or to be “Stronger Together”? What is it we really want, anyway?
I think white America wants the one-eye-closed white America we remember from Happy Days and Leave It to Beaver and That 70’s Show, where we’re financially and culturally comfortable and everybody else is just like us and the only social responsibility we have is to pursue our own version of happiness.
I think black America wants an equal place at the table, to raise their kids without fear of them being murdered because of their skin color, to feel like America is their country rather than the country that kidnapped their ancestors and now wishes the descendants would go away.
I think immigrants to America want a life where they can pursue peace and happiness, where they’re not starved or tortured or tyrannized by their own governments, or in fear of their children’s deaths every relentless day, Sunday through Saturday, 24/7.
I think politicians want the power and prestige that comes with an office: the heady aggrandizement of making decisions that impact millions of lives, the ego rush of seeing their faces in the media and having people listen to them and write about them, the speaking and consulting and name-lending fees they’ll collect after they leave office. In fact, I think wanting to run for office should automatically disqualify you from running for office.
I think each one of us wants what we want, and we naively believe our candidate of choice will hand it to us.
America will not be greater or better while we collectively and individually behave with animosity, self-interest, and ugliness. The way we are is not any single politician’s fault, or the fault of any public official in the history of the nation. The way we are now is because of the way we are.
Because it’s easier to bang out hateful slurs and hurl profanity on social media than to have a meaningful conversation about why each of us thinks the way we do.
Because it’s easier to block out people who disagree with us— to unfriend that political opponent; to vilify FOX News or The Washington Post as biased in every way and completely untrustworthy; to hang the shingle SATAN or SAVIOR on our unfavored or most favored politicians — than to listen to those we don’t understand, and try to understand, even if we never do come to agreement.
Because it’s easier to think we already know everything than to ask ourselves if there’s something we might not know yet.
So what do we really want? We want it easy. And we’re getting what we’ve earned from our lazy stroll down the easy way. We’ve earned the disappointing candidates who will be on the ballot this year. You, me, and every single one of us.
The ugly American is right here at home, and he is us.