Start with the concession that America has achieved greatness. Not “perfection,” never and far from, but something that can be agreed upon as greatness.
Ask what made America great. Ask what America’s most important and lasting contributions have been to the tapestry of human history, ask what is most memorable about the land and its inhabitants. Ask what America has done in the past that most supported its personal narrative as a pinnacle of civilization.
Consider that America has been at its greatest when it encourages its artists and scientists. It has been at its greatest when it indulges its drive to research, learn, and innovate. It fulfilled more of its promise each time it accepted its diversity and offered greater opportunities for more of its citizens than it had before, when it welcomed in ideas and experiences from beyond the limits of its knowledge, however long and frustrating the process was in realizing the potential power of it. America pioneered the idea of a republic based on a singular document’s rule of law instead of gambling solely on the whims of fallible human leaders. It was endowed with naturally breathtaking landscapes that the region’s original stewards preserved and respected, and this country at its greatest has acted to preserve and respect those lands as well.
Art, science, education, innovation, nature, openness, diversity, and the rule of law. This is what has, in the past, made America great.
Now ask why the Trump administration has, methodically, treated everything on the above list as its enemy, to be dismantled and undermined through both executive order and administrative appointment.
Consider that, catchy campaign slogan notwithstanding, they never had any intention of “making America great again.”
Consider that through the lens of industry and capitalism, they instead see that we’ve long been on a path that diminishes us as a society; economically, morally, intellectually.
Consider that their activities in the field of said industry and capitalism have been among the most prominent factors in that decline. They see writing on the wall and hear words from their bookkeepers that say the next century belongs to China, to India, to Japan, to Germany.
What is happening now is not an attempt to reverse that prophecy. What is happening now is an attempt to squeeze as much blood as they can from our veins and to then position themselves most advantageously for that paradigm to come. What is happening now is in fact a hastening of that prophecy, in the hopes that they might still be alive long enough to enjoy it, to feel satisfied that they won.
“America” means nothing to them. “America” is a tool of their selfishness and greed. They gave up on “America” a long, long time ago and are now manipulating the faith of those who still consider it worth fighting for, saving, and improving.
And every time we elect them, we indicate that we prefer to be so manipulated.