The History of Making America Great Again

If you go to any Trump-related event whatsoever, you will be sure to be greeted by a rolling sea of excruciatingly bright red hats, printed with the infamous slogan “Make America Great Again!”, popularized by Trump during his campaign. MAGA for short, has become a cornerstone of the president’s policy. But what does it really mean? When was our country last truly great, according to Trump?

Reagan was the first to use “Let’s Make America Great Again” during his 1980 campaign in referral to escaping the economic slump of the times. However, Trump has said that he was unaware of Reagan’s use of the slogan, as the former president “did not trademark it”. This shows that Trump’s desire to return to a previous era is not solely economically motivated, although this is how he tries to defend it. “If you look back, it really was, there was a period of time when we were developing at the turn of the century which was a pretty wild time for this country and pretty wild in terms of building that machine, that machine was really based on entrepreneurship,” he told the Times. Trump also pointed to the “late ‘40s and ‘50s,” a time when, he said, “we were not pushed around, we were respected by everybody, we had just won a war, we were pretty much doing what we had to do.’” Does Trump consider “doing what we had to do” as upholding Jim Crow laws, segregation, and enforcing the domesticization of women to keep those like him in positions of dominance? Does he think that a country respected by other countries is better than a country that respects every single one of its own people?

To Trump, America was last great before we had influxes of immigrants from “shithole” countries and when they were still being discriminated against. MAGA is a symbol for white supremacy and sexism. Rapper Mac Miller has suggested a rewording- “Make America White Again”, and this is not too far out of left field considering there were 917 known white supremacy groups during 2017, and they experienced a resurgence during the same year. David Duke frequently expresses his support of Trump, and the president would not condemn the violent actions and attitudes of these groups. Roy Moore, a politician Trump has been known to support, despite his reputation as a pedophile, referenced the time when “families were united — although we had slavery” as when America was last great, saying he could overlook the enslavement of African Americans in order to return to supposed greatness.

Saying that MAGA is a symbol of hate is not a crazy, liberal tenet. It is the dark truth. You cannot give those who support Trump the benefit of the doubt by saying the slogan is purely economically motivated. It clearly stands for returning to an era when POC experienced governmental discrimination greater than what they are experiencing now. It stands for an era when Trump believes white people held power. An era in which he would be comfortable.

– Chloe Zelch ’20

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