I am writing this as the votes are being counted in favor of Donald Trump for President of the United States. Newspapers across a surprising number of states are now preparing to run a headline with some version of Trump’s campaign pledge: Make America Great Again. Like much of what he says, this pledge is brief, with coded language towards members of his base, and written with elementary-level vocabulary. Yet he is going to win the presidency. As the outcome of this race begins to lean towards the inevitable, I want to dissect this phrase.
Make could mean to create, or pull together to form something new. It could also mean to compel, to force, or to dictate. I believe we should pursue the former. The Trump campaign’s rhetoric seems to describe the latter. Campaign messages and T-shirts alluded to ‘compelling’ or ‘forcing’ America to return to a past that exists in his supporters minds. This differs from my thinking of ‘make’ as create, making something new. An opportunity to form something new where there was nothing before. To forge a new path through hard work and effort. Personally I align with the idea of making as creating. I want to live in a country where we are all working together to create a new way through the problems we face. To be honest, I can’t really say I’ve been doing much of my version of ‘making.’ I didn’t vote in midterm elections or primaries. I didn’t financially support causes I believe in, even when I had the means. I didn’t talk about electoral issues with my students, even when they were interested and my administration was supportive. I became comfortable to let others do the ‘making.’ Indulging in that comfort is no longer an option. I need to make the ‘making’ of America as much of my daily life as any thing else.
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.