Letter to Editor from Mike Buettell

June 13, 2016 by David Dehlendorf

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Just when was America great?

Submitted by Mike Buettell, San Juan Island, June 12, 2016

Donald Trump wears a hat, that says, “Make America Great Again.” (You can get your own for about $15, in red or white.) Have you ever wondered just what period in history he is referring to?

The New York Times asked him specifically and he answered, “late ’40s and ’50s,” a time when he said,”We were not pushed around, we were respected by everyone.” ( it’s interesting to note that he did not mention the Reagan era as being “Great.”)

The Donald was born in 1946 (like me) so our memories of the late ’40s are pretty minimal; however, when you mention the 50’s, visions of movies like “Stand by Me,” “American Graffiti,” “Grease,” and TV shows like “Happy Days,” and “I Love Lucy,” pop into minds. Personally the words, poodle-skirts, Pony tails, Drive-In, malt shop, leather jackets, hot-rods, Rock and Roll, Black-and -white TV, the “Family car,” tight-leg jeans, Elvis and Doris Day bring a big smile to my face. All of those were very good things, and like Donald I miss them.

There are some words used in the ’50s, where no one smiles: Polio, Scarlet Fever, TB, Measles,Small Pox, Bikini Atoll, segregation, discrimination, “The Klan,” Cold War, McCarthyism, corporal punishment, and the list goes on. In addition, women of the ’50s could be anything they wanted as long as it was a housewife, teacher, nurse or secretary. Great? I think not.

So, what’s the point? I think all of us “old dudes” secretly long for the simpler days of our youth, when a pimple on the chin or a certain girl/guy in English class was a much bigger issue than who was running for office; but the fact is its not 1955 anymore. The world is massively more populated, complex and inter-connected. Trump’s simplistic message of ,”Make America Great Again,” resonates strongly with the poorly educated, a group he admits that he loves, but misses the target. A better slogan on the hat, although tough to fit, might be:

Let’s all put our differences aside and work to make the American Dream a reality for each and every citizen. Let’s set the example to the rest of the world that the words “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” are still alive and achievable. And possibly most important, let’s look for ways to incorporate the words, honesty, integrity, community-service, hope, trust, compassion, and love into every day conversation. If we could do that, America would be greater than its ever been.

Now, all we need is a leader who can deliver that slogan.

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