The Origins of Make America Great Again?

The left seems to think Donald Trump made up the slogan “make America great again” as a dog whistle for “white supremacists.”

The (il)logic behind this buffoonery rests on the premise that Trump wanted to take America back to the 1950s, a time when segregated schools dotted the American landscape, black children couldn’t drink at the same water fountains as white children in the South, women were stuck at home living in the “feminist mystique”, and racist tropes were commonplace in popular culture.

That is how the left thinks about America. They also don’t think America has ever been excellent or as a society has ever pursued excellence. How can you when you enslave and subjugate a portion of your population?

We should just ask the Athenians. Or the Spartans. Or the Romans. They certainly believed their societies were exceptional and all strove for excellence in their people. They were also all slaveholding and “discriminatory” societies that are regarded as the fountainheads of Western Civilization.

Making Athens or Sparta or Rome “great” was part of their culture. You can’t do that, however, when the excellent people for your past are castigated as the worst people in history. Calhoun is Hitler. So it Trump. So was almost every member of the founding generation.

In fact, these leftist totalitarians have more in common with Adolf than either Calhoun, Trump, or any member of the founding generation.

Pericles insisted that Athens maintain its excellence in the face of a difficult war with Sparta. The city had seen death, but according to Pericles could easily rise above it. After all, Athens was the greatest city in the world, a city unsurpassed in might, culture, and wealth.

It was, he said, the school of the Hellas. For a brief period in world history, the United States had this position. “Make America Great” was born in the mind of Western Civilization, a call for the cream to rise to the top and the “shithole countries” (or any other country for that matter) to stay at the bottom.

Trump operated from this position. This is not to excuse his mistakes–there were many–but to understand why his message was and is so appealing and powerful.

I have often called the founding generation the greatest in American history. They promoted excellence and learned from the Greeks and Romans. They were republicans with a firm commitment to the “ancient constitutions” of their ancestors.

That is excellence.

That is what made America great.

We can learn much from speeches like Pericles’s Funeral Oration. It planted the seeds of making something great. The Athenians already believed they had it. So do many Americans today who simply want to put an end to the faux outrage wokism of the left.

Their goal is also power and subjugation, power for themselves and subjugation for their political enemies.

Just look at the last twenty months. Sprinkle in a bit of old fashioned American political Puritanism (Fauci wants to cancel Christmas, again) and we have a perfect totalitarian American Frankenstein.

Regardless, Americans want a positive message, a glimpse at what was great about our past. We shouldn’t create false myths, but we should also admire the heroism and greatness of our ancestors. We carry them on our shoulders.

I discuss Pericles and my new course at McClanahan Academy on Episode 523 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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