Friday, July 28, 2023
#209 / Let's Hear It For MAGA
This is a pro-MAGA blog post. If that announcement seems surprising, read on.
Sometimes, you know, President Biden and other leading figures in the Democratic Party do a little name-calling, and they disparage those whom they identify as "MAGA Republicans." When they do that, I kind of cringe. It reminds me of Hillary Clinton's very ill-advised (and incorrect) assertion that fifty percent of Republican Party voters can properly be identified as a "basket of deplorables." That remark, in my opinion, is one reason that Hillary Clinton lost that 2016 election to Donald Trump.
This kind of name-calling is not a good political strategy, and it's not even fair. If there is one thing that has "made America great" it is our commitment to robust political debate and division. Those with whom we disagree, politically, are not "deplorable," or whatever word might be deployed to label, further, those "MAGA Republicans" that the President seeks to call out. Those with whom we disagree politically are not "deplorable." They're "wrong." Or, at least, we who disagree with them believe they're wrong, and are willing to say so, and to put the questions to a vote, and to "let the people decide."
Just to be clear, I do think that "deplorable" is a good word to describe former President Trump's conduct in office, and his conduct afterwards, too. However, while I do think that many of his actions as president were "deplorable," just as many of his actions afterwards have been, this is not, I think, the main point. The partisanship and polarization that many decry in our contemporary politics is fueled and enhanced by the kind of name-calling that he promoted while president - and those who are not admirers of our former president should not fall into that same trap. Placing negative labels on those citizens and voters who continue to support former president Trump is not the way to be successful in the political debate that we are going to confront in the upcoming election.
Just think about what "MAGA" stands for. It stands for "Make America Great Again."
Is there anyone out there who doesn't want to do that? Is there anyone out there who doesn't think that America used to be "greater" than it is today, and that we ought to be trying to make it great once more? I am, really, pretty far out there on the "progressive" side of our political spectrum. I was a Bernie Sanders delegate at the Democratic National Convention, in Philadelphia, in 2016. That is just one for instance. I am not a Republican. I am not supportive of most of the positions taken by Republican Party officials and candidates, and I really do "deplore" what our former President has done to our national politics.
But.... I want to "Make America Great Again," and I'm betting that lots of people do!
What has made America great - if we employ that phrase using the past tense? Well, let's begin with the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed that ALL persons are created equal. Let's proceed to the Constitution, itself, the document that, as the name signifies, embodies what America actually "is." Our nation is "constituted" by the commitments made in that document - including all the amendments, by the way. The Constitution demands exceptional protections for individual liberty, and further prescribes that most governing should be done at the state and local level (not at the national level), and that the federal government should be constrained by "checks and balances" that make it difficult for the government to do anything without widespread public support.
Very importantly, I believe, the Gettysburg Address is the third document that helps define what has made America great. It was the Gettysburg Address that "relaunched" our nation as ONE nation, after the Civil War, and it explains, in one memorable phrase, what "makes America great." Our government, said President Lincoln, must remain, as it began, a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."
I routinely point out that we ought to place the greatest emphasis on that middle term - "BY the people."
Do YOU want to "Make America Great Again?"
I do, and that means, to me, that more of us must get engaged in politics ourselves. More of us must be willing to dedicate "our lives, and our fortunes, and our sacred honor" to the political work that will determine what our government will do. That kind of government is what made America great (despite all the horrors in which this nation has been engaged). Self-government. A government of, by, and for the people. That is what we need. That is what has, and can, again, "Make America Great."
So, let's hear it for MAGA! And let's get back to work on realizing the promises contained in those three fundamental documents that define American democracy!