Musings from the Bunker 1/17/21
Short and sweet…no more “in his words.” For in but three days, “his” words no longer matter.
I recall seeing someone at work sporting a hat in September 2016 with the words “Make America Great Again.” It was the first time I’d seen one of these hats in person and the first time worn by someone I knew. My initial instinct was “what do you mean ‘again’?” America is great—always has been.
The greatness of America is not necessarily in the full extension of the rights and opportunity to all Americans—it remains a work in progress. Nor is it the economic malaise, economic imbalance, or social inequities we currently face. These are obstacles to overcome that will require dedication to what has made America great for over two centuries.
America is great because, unlike most nations, it is based not on a particular ethnic or religious identity. It was created based upon a set of ideals—about the sanctity of the individual, about the right to worship, speak and associate as one chooses, about limits on the state, about striving for racial, economic and social equality, about a free, yet regulated, market, about striving to be the best and recognizing outstanding achievement, about a common community focused on making the world a better place. The nation that grew out of the 18th century enlightenment and struggled through the great social, economic, and industrial upheavals of the 19th century, continuing to seek the implementation of these great ideals. And the 20th century saw America, though often faltering, standing up against the twin scourges of fascism and Communism and slowly moving toward a more tolerant and inclusive nation.
Now we are in a period of great division and turmoil. We cannot wallow on why we may have failed in so many ways or how our institutions have let us down. We have and they did. Rather, we should focus on replicating our successes. We should be focused on the extension of the great liberal enlightenment ideals upon which we were founded, continuing to strive for that greatness that is embodied in the Declaration, extended by Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, accentuated by the progressive era, nurtured by the New Deal and carried forward by the great expansion of rights and inclusion of the late 20th century, as articulated by King and others.
It’s time not to make America great again, but to continue the journey to implement the greatness of words and ideas in the daily lives of our people. As a coach once said, “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Time to believe and get to work.
Just as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were kept on hold by Vice-President Pence last week, I feel like our nation has been sitting on hold for too long… It’s been a tough slog through these rather dark years but it’s nearly over.
America always has been great. How ironic that, with the departure of Donald Trump, we can be great again.
I am happy for Wednesday and a rebirth.
With respect and optimism,