Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | Shawwal 6, 1445 H
broken clouds
29°C / 29°C

America: You can’t be serious...

America can only ever be great through making its people great

The Wild West cowboy movie had no character more richly endowed with the ‘gift of the gab’ than the ubiquitous snake oil salesman, a purveyor of wisdom, philosophy, and an elixir to remedy all ills, for just a nickel or dime. They were largely inconsequential, merely adding splashes of colour, wit, and sometimes, tragedy to every cinematic masterpiece.

Fast-forward to the Donald Trump political machine, incredibly, gathers pace as it rolls remorselessly onwards, having finally sucked the economic oxygen, out of Florida Governor Ron De Santis’ Republican presidential ambitions. The snake oil salesman is back, as colourful as ever, with his unique brand of wit, in a political return that can only end in tears for America, as he bids to, in his words ‘Make America Great Again.’

The reality is that he never last time, and having himself not changed, the result will not. Trump’s presidency, 2017–21, was the most traumatic ‘peacetime’ presidency ever, with an increase national debt by almost 40 per cent, increased unemployment, and a confused foreign policy. In 2021 America voted in Joe (who?) Biden, rather than face another term of Trump, and that ended in chaos when he exhorted his supporters to “take back” the election result and overturn it, in the Capitol Hill invasion of January 2021... and they want this man back in the hot seat?

This year, America celebrates its 248th birthday, a ‘great’ nation that virtually invented racism, decriminalises drug use, laughs off obesity, has a growing knife and gun crime epidemic, and glories in its Homer Simpson and South Park rhetoric and buffoonery. Madeliene Albright, former US ambassador, observed dryly that while many nations have benefitted from American financial aid and investment, “none benefitted more than America.” Add in ‘the big short,’ ‘too big to fail,’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ and you can see why the American perception of ever having been great is significantly flawed.

It has never rivalled the truly great civilisations, the American Inca’s, and Aztecs, Europe’s Romans and Greeks, the Mongol and Chin dynasties of Asia, of Ancient Egypt and the Middle East who, demonstrated remarkable social structures, architecture, and agriculture, language, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, and trade. These are ‘great’ achievements, perpetuating the march of mankind, and more significantly, great in the eyes of others, not the vapid reflections of what we see in the mirror.

Looking even closer, Dr Arthur Schlesinger, of Harvard University wrote in 1959 of it giving the world ‘the right of revolution.’ Well, sorry to disabuse him, but revolutions have been around since the Roman monarchy under Lucius Tarquinius was unseated 5,000 years ago, the Chinese Xins were overthrown by the Han dynasty 2000 years ago, even England had a revolution of its own 400 odd years ago that led to its Parliament! And these were just a few.

And if you want to be great, you probably must also look at what you haven’t done well... and I’ll not mention any civil rights, overseas conflicts and the like where you haven’t emerged as great, let alone with any credit. But that’s what history and life are, ups and downs, one day you’re right and the next... There is a time to be humble, a time to step back and say... ‘Today we’ve been brilliant. But if we don’t get up and do just as well again tomorrow, and all the time, we’re not even good.’ Just ask any ‘great’ athlete like Jesse Owens, or Michael Phelps, but not Lance Armstrong.

And there we have it. America can only ever be great through making its people great. So perhaps it would be more appropriate for someone to take, and make, their political tag line, ‘Making American’s Great,’ because we have all met wonderful Americans... but they just get put in the shade by those who talk too often, too loudly, and don’t stop to listen. George Carlin though, was never more right when he said, “In America, anyone can be the President... that’s the problem.”

arrow up
home icon