Is it Make America Golf Again? No? “Great?”
When was America great? Why isn’t it great now? Okay, dumb question; I know what’s wrong with it now. A year ago, though, there was certainly room for improvement, but we were making noticeable progress. Maybe we weren’t great, but we were pretty damned good and working our way to great. It’s a process.
What do they mean by “great?” When were we great before that we’re not now? I’ve been asking these questions (to myself and to others online) for almost a year now. Most people have no answer, but every so often someone tells me that “MAGA” is code for something along the lines of “make America white again” or “‘they’ think America was great before the civil rights movement.”
This whole thing is difficult for me to grasp for several reasons. First, I’m white. Second, I’m only 50 years old (I was born in 1967; my brother came along in 1969). My parents are racists, but in the scheme of things “only a little racist” if that makes sense. That is to say it was the 70’s; they kept their shitty opinions and attitudes away from us kids mostly when we were growing up. It was not polite to spew racist garbage in public, and they weren’t with the KKK or anything like that. I’m an adult now obviously, and my parents have divorced and remarried and live in other states/countries. Ever since Obama’s election one of the parents is less likely to try to hide racism than the other. That same parent has also learned that they will not get the desired reaction from my brother or from me when they make a shitty comment or start sharing their shitty, racist opinions. The phone call ends. Right then. They won’t hear from either of us again for some time. Life is just too short to deal with racist fucks even if they are one’s parent.
This whole thread posted by Keith Boykin explained it best, I think. The graphic is excellent, but read the rest, too:
No Democrat has won the majority of the white vote since 1964, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Of course it's about race. pic.twitter.com/96vEwVNCMj
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) May 26, 2017
52 years ago today Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed US Senate 77-19. 47 Dems & 30 Republicans voted for it. How times have changed pic.twitter.com/cxRSRUEQmE
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) May 26, 2017
And the third reason all this is hard for me to grasp? I’m a woman. We’ve never been particularly good or fair to women in the United States. It was especially obvious when I, a single parent working more than 40 hours per week, tried to better myself with school. No matter how a woman tries, she will never be good enough, and she will never do the right thing because she simply cannot please everyone, though that is to be the goal. We wear ourselves out trying to be what we are “supposed” to be to everyone in this decade and in every one before it.
Still, I’m working to understand the concepts, the MAGA message, to see if we can get there from here. Let’s form a picture of what the GOP is trying to sell with its MAGA message. Step into the time machine and wind it back (picture fast motion people walking backward and buildings being unbuilt. . .) to some time in the 1950’s. It’s not a random choice; we’re looking at the “before the civil rights movement” answer to the MAGA question of when we were supposedly great.
Suppose we decide as a country that we really do want to go back to being a bunch of racist/sexist shitbags. Before we even begin to examine the social implications (and I’m mostly not going there with this post), there are financial, economic considerations. To start with, we must somehow magically make it easy for a (white) man with only a high school education to earn more than enough to comfortably support a family of four to six people, own a home and at least one car. He makes about $3300. The car costs $1500, and the home is about $7400. Good-paying jobs for uneducated men must be plentiful for our model white guy who rarely has to put in more than 40 hours at work in a week. I picture Ward Cleaver and his lovely wife, June, although the pearls would be fakes. This is not a wealthy family; it’s a comfortable family.
Health care costs are going to have to come down so much that I can’t even find an exact figure. The difference in costs between the 1950’s and now is huge and based on so many factors that it’s way above my pay grade. My point here is that (refer to the graph at the top comparing health care costs, GDP, and wages 1960-2010) we are so far from where we were then that even if the majority of us wanted to go back, we couldn’t.
In the 1950’s we have police and fire protection, good public schools, a military, libraries, (new highways in the late 1950’s thanks to Eisenhower), parks. . . What is this going to cost us? Tax rate comparisons for then and now (this is the figures adjusted to 2013 using real 2012 American dollars so that same white guy, as far as I can tell, is supporting his family on around $52,000 – notice our purchasing power is way down now, too.):
The cost of college education for all those kids you could afford to have (because reliable birth control pills didn’t come along until 1960) was much lower than it is now.
“In 1950, a family sending their child to the University of Pennsylvania would only spend 18 percent of their annual income (if they paid in cash) to send their kid to study. Today it would consume 79 percent of gross annual income.” – from mybudget360
This dream of going back is very much an issue of control. Control of non-male, non-white, non-heterosexual, non-Christian, non-wealthy people so that the white, wealthy, straight, Christian men can feel in control. These politicians, 45 especially, are using people’s fear and racism to cook up some kind of dream goal that simply cannot be imagined, must less achieved. Yet, they are pushing us in the direction of violence, hate, and fear. Rather than learning to work for better, to be better, to do better, these “MAGA” people have been given a handy excuse and permission to punish those who are perceived to have somehow wronged these fragile men. Innocent people, no different than our delicate little men, except for their understanding of their part in our society, pay for these men’s insecurities. Some pay with their lives.
The direction, the path, we’ve been sent on:
It’s not working even if they think this is what they want:
A thread with an important message:
Consequences (edited 29 June 2017 because original tweet is not available, but link to a version of the story about New York EMS Lt. Timothy Dluhos, 34 is here, too):
Tell me, are we great, yet? Are we even going in the right direction?
As far as I can tell, as an intelligent, 50-year-old, white woman who was divorced fairly young and had to raise a child, this country has not been great in my lifetime. It’s been much better than it is today, though. Eight months ago, even, we were on our way. Today we’re going the opposite direction, and our government has the wrong goals. To those who are currently supporting the GOP and its agenda, you’re on the wrong side of history, and you and your family will suffer for it (as will mine). To those non-white and/or non-male supporters of the GOP and its agenda, it’s perfectly fine with me if you prefer servitude. Choose it if you like. I’ll even try not to judge, but do NOT support or defend those who make it mandatory for the rest of us. With or without you, we choose forward, together.
(Don’t expect this is the last you’ll hear from me on the subject. I’m learning. I’m trying to understand. That is why I am referring so often here to stories and opinions from twitter and the like. Input is appreciated!)
My Patreon, if you are so inclined. Your support is much appreciated!
Link: U.S. Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History, 1862-2013 (Nominal and Inflation-Adjusted Brackets), 17 Oct. 2013, Tax Foundation (the figures in the graphic were copied and pasted to be absolutely sure I made no mistakes, and have done one also with actual (nominal) figures – happy to share if you message me on FB or Twitter)
Link: “Suspect in Portland Hate Crime Murders is a Known White Supremacist” – by Doug Brown of The Portland Mercury
Link: “No, White Friend—You Weren’t ‘Embarrassed’ by Barack Obama” – by John Pavlovitz
Link: History of Health Spending in the United States, 1960-2013, Aaron C. Catlin and Cathy A. Cowan, 19 Nov. 2015
Link: “1950s Tax Fantasy Is a Republican Nightmare” – by Amity Shlaes at Bloomberg
Your moment of Zen:
— I luv being Teamster (@JimKilbane) May 26, 2017
Original link for Caroline O. tweet leading to Mother Jones link:
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) April 30, 2017
Original link for Maguire tweet:
White supremacists have killed more people in the past week than refugee terrorists from Trump travel ban countries…in the last 40 years pic.twitter.com/tSPy9wFwiV
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) May 27, 2017
Original link for MacNab tweet:
— JJ MacNab (@jjmacnab) May 27, 2017
(Edited 25 July 2018 to include hashtag and link to Patreon)