Lacking the gift for catchy advertising, I am a poor slogan inventor, but surely someone can do better than those tired red hats stating "Make America Great Again."
Since greatness hasn’t happened in nearly four years, enough with the MAGA nonsense. And don’t even get me started on KAG ("Keep America Great"). The following acronyms may more aptly describe what Donald Trump and his complicit Republicans have actually made of America. Again.
MACA: Make America Corrupt Again. Trump and his ilk have indulged in an updated version of the Harding administration’s Teapot Dome scandal, with a different steaming pot of internal corruption brimming over just about every day. The early 20th century was a great time for grift in America, and that’s where we are again.
MASA: Make America Sick Again. Was the influenza of 1918 what Trump had in mind? This administration’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic has killed over 180,000 Americans, with no end or plan in sight. Woodrow Wilson’s incompetent leadership has resurfaced.
MAPA: Make America Poor Again. Recreating the 1930s with this one. The Great Depression was a different kind of "Great." Or maybe not. We’re gonna need a bigger Roosevelt to restore an equitable society after this guy.
MAHA: Make America Hate (Each Other) Again. Anyone up for a re-do of the generation gap, circa 1968? Parents against kids, Blacks against whites, cops against hippies, women against men, students against war, to mention a few national head-to-head conflicts. As I remember, that was not a great time.
MADA: Make America Dirty Again. How about refashioning the national environmental mess that led Nixon, of all presidents, to establish the Environmental Protection Agency and the first Earth Day in 1970? Climate change is another crisis that doesn’t care if you label it a hoax. It’s coming anyway, and Trump’s failure to protect the earth bodes for anything but great ahead.
MABA: Make America Barbaric Again. The first executions of federal prisoners since 2003, three in a row in July with more scheduled, plop us back in the company of countries like China and Saudi Arabia, joining them in a cruel and callous disregard for human life. A “pro-life” Justice Department would be great, but that’s not what we have under the imposter Barr. His credo: All life is sacred, unless you’re looking for votes.
I find MABA particularly disturbing, because it uses killing people as a political tool. The death penalty, with its many inherent injustices, appeals to the vengeful, the merciless, the bloodlusty, or the “Kool-Aid drinkers and next of kin,” as CNN reporter Jim Acosta succinctly put it. Trumpeting a wave of federal executions to satisfy the baser instincts of one’s voters is immoral, abhorrent and, dare I say, an even lower low for this gang.
Believing Trump’s MAGA slogan must be like living in Bizarro World, where up is down and real is fake and one’s own eyes aren’t to be trusted. Remember when the bloodless son-in-law said the country would be “really rocking” by July? We are rocked, all right, by plague and hunger and unemployment and racism and injustice and insecurity and ineptitude and scandal and dishonesty and attempted tyranny. I guess his prediction was correct.
MAGA is the real hoax that has been perpetuated among us. I can’t think of one thing in America that is more "Great" than it was under President Obama. Federal troops inciting violence in American cities? Journalists attacked or hacked to pieces? Bounties of $100,000 on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan, courtesy of Comrade Putin? A decimated-on-purpose health care system during a pandemic? Denial of the pandemic? The ridiculous wall? Blatantly political judges? Voter suppression? Constitutional crises? An incoherent president who tells checkable lies and throws daily wrenches into the gears of functioning government? Those awful adult children? Nyet to all of it.
So. About those red hats. I get the coded language, the real unstated goal being MAWA: Making America White Again. We all get it, but that’s neither who we are nor who we should aspire to be. Our better angels have always tried to lead us to a more perfect America, one of freedom and justice and equality for all who arrive on our shores, and we have made uneven progress toward the American ideal. I can’t imagine that our present situation is what a red-hat-wearer had in mind. Explain to me like I’m a third-grader what former "Great" time in our history this president has promised, much less achieved. Or are we just supposed to give him four more years of mayhem? Four more years to destroy any vestige of the dream of democracy and any whisper of that poem on the Statue of Liberty?
My heart can’t take it. Our country can’t take it. The world can’t take it. This time, let’s move forward with a vote for a saner, sounder, healthier, wiser, cleaner, kinder, better America.
Valerie Schultz writes a twice-monthly column for The Bakersfield Californian.