Wednesday, January 25, 2017

America's Story (part 21) - Is America Great?

Reagan 80/
Make America Great Again

That slogan can be read that America is no longer great. But we want to be. Again.

And that was Donald Trump's slogan in the 2016 presidential campaign. And it was used before. In 1980. By Ronald Reagan. As shown on the button above.

Both campaigns were decades apart. But in some ways very similar. Both were successful. Both candidates won the White House.

The zeitgeist (spirit of the times), was pessimistic. Angry. Dispirited. As many Americans perceived their country was in a downward spin into the dustbin of history.

In 1980:  We suffered a malaise from stagflation to the Iran Hostage Crisis.

In 2016:  A majority (up 70% to 80%, at times) believed the country was going in the wrong direction.Direction of Country polling ]

And during this zeitgeist, I remember getting email from a friend in 2012.  It contained video link, described as  The Most Honest Three and Half Minutes of Television

It still has been making the rounds in social media. And it comes to this conclusion...

America is not the greatest country in the world anymore

Oh, no. Not this again.

That case was made on the TV series, The Newsroom (2012-2014).

It begins, first of all, with the reporter, Jeff Daniel's character Will McAvoy establishing himself as a non-partisan journalist. Objective. Unbiased. A man we can trust. At least in this fictional world.

When asked why America is the greatest country in the world (after hearing the cliche answers of his colleagues), he hesitates.  Reluctant to answer. But he has a cheerleader in the crowd encouraging him with flash cards.

And the drama builds. The answer is finally dragged out of him. Like pulling teeth. It's torture. He finally admits it:

America is not the greatest country in the world. 

Then he peppers the audience with a bucket load of statistics to support this claim. Looking sad and even mourning his dismal conclusion. Yet offering a pearl of wisdom that recognizing the problem is the first step to solving it.

Here is the clip that had many of us (myself included) wringing our hands. Warning, some profanity:

Yep. Four years ago, I bought into this brutal honesty. Hook. Line. And sinker. I even blogged about it: AI (part 1) - American Ingenuity 

Here are some points I made in that 2012 post:

The anchor seems to mourn for what we Americans used to be. And here are a few nibbles -

We stood up for what was right ... we reached for the stars ... acted like men ... we aspired to intelligence ... we didn't scare so easy ...

He ends his rant ...

First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. ... Enough?

Then I heard a rebuttal to that scripted rant worth considering.

It's described as: A thorough slap down and rebuttal to Jeff Daniels' viral anti-America Newsroom scene, in which he claims that America is not the greatest country in the world.

Hmmm. Some fact checking here.

Other countries with freedom? Saying other countries have freedom, does not make it so. Not when speech, religion, self-defense, moving between the classes, access to education, opportunity is curtailed or defined by the state.

Statistics? Easy to lie with statistics. Mislead. Compare apples to oranges.

But with freedom comes responsibility. In absence of an overbearing "Nanny State" comes the freedom to make wrong choices. And that has consequences, which are not good. And are reflected in some statistics that point that we can do better.

It comes down to: Freedom vs. Tyranny. And I blogged about that in 2014: Too Weak to Live With Freedom?

Freedom wins. Because it's right.


Is America is great?

You bet. As long as we are free.

Other posts in this series:

America's Story (part 19) - Trinity and "The Long Peace"  (2015)

America's Story (part 20) - Patton's Weather Prayer (2015)