As a freelance writer, I’m asked to write op-ed pieces. To give my opinion. To say, “I know you might not agree, but here’s what I think.”
But so far – for some reason – I haven’t weighed in on the election. November is quickly approaching, and I’m supposed to say something.
Instead I’m overwhelmed by nostalgia. I keep thinking about how great our country has been in the past, and how many wonderful things Americans have done, and I have this desire to…
Make America Great Again.
It’s hard to go through 240 years of a nation’s history and pick out just a few things, but I’ll do my best. I’ll try to make a quick list of great moments in American history.
Let’s start right at the beginning with voting rights:
I love that this great nation was founded on citizens being able to vote. Imagine if those new Americans couldn’t vote in the 1770’s. That would’ve been terrible. No voting. Thank God that all (white) men could vote in local and national elections from the very inception of this nation.
I also love that all of our founding fathers were people of the same class and race. It’s important to have a unified group leading a young nation, to have a social bond, people who understand each other, and America was great to have unity in the beginning.
Some critics might argue that the founding fathers should’ve had more philosophical and religious unity, but being upper-class and white is enough for me.
Skipping forward into the 1800s:
I love that in 1819 Alabama was admitted as a slave state, bringing the total number of slave states and free states to equal numbers. It’s great that we had that kind of numerical EQUALITY. Eleven to eleven.
11 = 11
I love that balance.
Also, there’s the whole states’ rights thing, which has always been great as well. States’ rights is clearly a positive thing, and the autonomy of states’ rights has never been misunderstood or used for unethical purposes.
Skipping forward two decades, in 1838 and 1839, as part of President Andrew Jackson’s “Indian Removal Policy,” the Cherokee nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and to migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma.
This was the last of the great five-tribes removal that started eight years before.
Because of Jackson’s forward thinking, the Southeast was then open for European immigrants and U.S. citizens from the east coast. These migrating (white) people were free to move into newly opened territory. They were FREE to move in. And freedom is great. Free land is great. So clearly America was great in the 1830s as well.
But let’s not forget that the middle of the 19th century (1859 to 1865) gave us The Civil War. That was great too.
Yes, 1.1 million men died fighting in that war. I know. And dying is bad. But the Civil War was great because this great nation of the United States stayed together. And staying together meant more greatness to come.
Then, in the late 19th century – during the industrial revolution – child labor reached all-time highs. This was great because children’s small bodies could fit into tight factory spaces and mines where adults were unable to go. Imagine not having those small bodies to work in tight spaces. Imagine not having small hands to feed materials into machines.
That wouldn’t be great. Trust me. Great production requires great ideas…like child labor.
I mean, look at these kids after a good, character-building day of hard work:
The economic depression called “The Panic of 1893” doesn’t seem like a good thing (since 500 banks closed that year), but it led to a great Broadway musical called “The War Of Wealth” in 1896. So that’s just America finding a way to be great again. Through art.
During that same time period, (white) democrats in the south banded together and passed new legislation to keep African Americans and poor whites from voting.
Again, that may not sound like a good thing, but it was a group of politicians working together, and actually getting things done. They set goals and attained those goals. These (white) democrats were really, really great at making new laws.
Which brings us to the 20th century – a time-period I’m especially nostalgic for – so I’ll just curb my enthusiasm and go with a quick-hits list:
– In 1901, McKinley was shot…which brought us the great president Teddy Roosevelt.
– The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake caused great fires that raged through the city.
– Then there was The GREAT Depression. Dust Bowl. Migration.
– The Jim Crow South in the 1930s was pretty great…(if you weren’t black).
And getting into the 1940’s, I’m sort of proud of this.
But I’m incredibly proud of THIS.
– Plus, during the McCarthy era, we were great at interrogating suspected communists.
– Then there were SO many sexual indiscretions in the second half of the twentieth century that showed the great virility of our politicians.
The 21st century has had some greatest hits as well:
– After 9/11, we did a great job routing Saddam Hussein and taking over Iraq:
– Hurricane Katrina was one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history, and FEMA’s response showed a great amount of dysfunction and mismanagement.
– Then there was a great recession.
And on and on and on…
I could write so much more, but the word “great” loses its power when used too often.
So I’ll stop.
It’s 2016. We have an election coming up. Oh wait, that’s today. This afternoon. This evening.
And since I’m not really a political expert – just a humble freelance writer and literary novelist – I shouldn’t tell you who to vote for. That’s not my job.
Basically, I can’t help you with that dilemma.
But – either way – let’s go out and Make America Great Again.