Opinion: Donald Trump fails to make America great again

Sydney Alper, Editor-in-Chief

Art by Amy Wang

“Make America Great Again,” informally known as MAGA, has been one of President Donald Trump’s primary campaign slogans. Now, to believe in this slogan, one must first accept the premise that at one point America was great, then wasn’t, and that Trump would be the one to make the country great again. As it is, that’s a tall order for any one person.

But what does “great” even mean? Merriam Webster defines the word as “markedly superior in character or quality.” Already, with this definition in mind, we can think of Trump’s campaign slogan as an attempt to make America superior, not improved, but superior. 

First, let’s look back on our American history to determine at what point this country was indeed great. Was America great when the government committed genocide against the native people? Was America great when it enslaved Africans and then proceeded to systematically oppress them for centuries? Was America great killing millions of innocent citizens of foreign nations in the name of freedom and anti-communism?

All of these examples barely scratch the surface of the atrocities left behind in American history. 

When Trump said that he wanted to make America great again, it seems that perhaps he wanted to return to a time when white men were superior and all-controlling. While those men are still the most privileged citizens of our country, many changes have been made to afford more equal treatment to women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and other minorities.  

However, much of Trump’s rhetoric and actions go against these more progressive values.

We could discuss the myriad ways in which Trump has dragged this country backwards, but it seems an almost insurmountable task to cover all of what he has done to hurt human rights and human dignity. From everything to pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, to his Muslim travel ban, to starting a trade war with China and disrespecting other world leaders, Trump has failed to put America in good standing with the rest of the world. In fact, he’s even gone as far as to insult members of his own political party, as well as hundreds of American people and organizations.

As for humanitarian issues, he has openly mocked a disabled reporter, has denied the 26 allegations of sexual harassment against him, rolled back numerous protections for the LGBTQ+ community, and under his leadership more than 386,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States. 

These are, of course, just a few examples of the actions Trump and his administration have taken to lower the quality of life for most American people. Don’t forget that for the wealthiest 1% of Americans, with all of the tax cuts offered to them under the Trump administration, they are wealthier and more prosperous than ever. So, apparently, he may have made their bank accounts “great.”

But Trump’s divisiveness and problematic presidency go beyond just his political actions. He has refused to condemn white supremacists on national television and repeatedly praised the Proud Boys, a modern fascist group. He has called the press “the enemy of the American people,” simply because he didn’t like what they were saying about him. 

Donald Trump consistently created and spread lies from everything about his treasonous actions in the Ukraine to voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. He perpetrated so many fictitious stories in such a way that his supporters believed him over and over again, despite numerous news outlets and objective analysts consistently disproving his claims. After all, he had said over and over again that the news media was not to be trusted. 

The President of the United States, arguably one of the most powerful men in the world, split this nation so into two, that it almost seemed that there were two sets of facts in our country, two different realities. But that’s simply impossible. There is truth and there is lies, there are no two sets of facts. 

Yet, we watched this happen. We saw Donald Trump spread his version of the truth, a version that suited his needs. This divided our nation so much that people stormed the Capitol building. Hundreds of people committed treason and four died in the process, all in the name of President Donald Trump.

One of President Donald Trump's primary slogans was "make America great again." Do you think he succeeded in this goal?

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So, to answer the question, did Donald Trump make America great again: no, he absolutely did not. I’ll say that again. President Donald Trump failed to make America great, much less great again, because his lies, manipulations, bullying, narcissism, selfishness, ignorance, bigotry, insults, aggression, xenophobia, and downright sedition have divided our country almost to the breaking point. The political polarization and violence that have worsened because of Trump’s leadership is not the mark of a “great” country.

Despite being a horrible human being, Trump still could have led the United States successfully and made our country a strong, stable place to live, much like other world leaders have. Instead, our nation is fraught with tension, with people who now dwell in different realities. There are those who are against Trump and those who seem as if they will go to the ends of the Earth for the man. With such contrasting groups in our nation, it is hard to consider this country great. After all, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

The violence on the Capitol just a couple of weeks ago was the culmination of the animosity and lies that had been building for the past four years. Our democracy was threatened once with the insurrection at the Capitol and historical patterns do not bode well for our future. It cannot reasonably be said that a president leaving office with his country more fraught with tension than ever before succeeded in making the country great.

I hope that we can learn from what Donald Trump has shown us with his bullying and lies and move forward to stabilize our country and heal our divisions. I believe that America can one day become a land of promise, opportunity and peace, perhaps even one day being considered great, in the sense not of superiority but as a “generalized term of approval,” another definition of great. To do this, first, we must heal from the scars inflicted upon our nation these past four years, and that’s going to take a fair amount of work.