When were we great?

    Instead of reasoned arguments Trump resorts to name calling to attack his perceived enemies and to excite his supporters. Fear and anger are enemies of rational thought and therefore an effective device of autocrats.

    The slogan “Make America Great Again” was not invented by Trump. It was used in a political context by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. A couple of autocrats from other countries have recently used a similar slogan. It has emotional appeal but carries little information.
    In reference to its recent use “Voice of America” has called the slogan a loaded phrase because it “doesn't just appeal to people who hear it as racist coded language, but also those who have felt a loss of status as other groups have become more empowered.” The complaints made against “political correctness” come from this feeling of having their traditional way of interacting with “others” criticized resulting in a feeling of loss of status.
    I see being politically correct as showing respect for other people rather than attacking them for their differences. (Attacking people is different from expressing disagreement over ideas and opinions.)
    I'd like to know what Trump supporters feel are the great times and why? The American government has done some good things for the people of the world (religious freedom and freedom from religion, welcoming immigrants, public education, FDR's New Deal social policies, Truman's “Four Point Program,” the Marshall Plan, passing the voters' rights act, civil rights acts, establishing the EPA, marriage equality, the Fulbright Exchange Program, nuclear arms reduction treaties, and more).
    When was America great?
    Were we great when we tried to exterminate the indigenous people of this continent; when we passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; when we imprisoned loyal Japanese citizens; when we enforced discrimination against women, religious, ethnic, “racial,” and language minorities; when we restrict voting rights; when we support dictators over democratically elected national leaders?
    You may not be a xenophobe, misogynist or raciest but those views are certainly consistent with the behaviors and statements coming from the White House. Should America be an isolationist country that walls itself off from the rest of the world, both physically and politically or should we use our power to engage the world to reduce the existential threats of nuclear war, climate calamities, climate and war refugees and loss of democracies to oligarchs?
    So far in America your vote can make a difference, but so cannot voting.
James Vokac
Willow Springs, Mo.