I’m still not sure what this oft-repeated phrase even means. When was America ever great? And no, to be clear, I don’t mean that in some leftist, Chomsky-esque way. What I mean is, America has always had problems and likely always will. Donald Trump is peddling a myth. It only requires a basic knowledge of American history to realize that there was never a mystical American golden age that has since disappeared but might still be resuscitated by a Trump administration. From the disastrous Articles of Confederation to slavery to the burning of the White House by the British to the Civil War to Jim Crow to the Great Depression to Sputnik to Vietnam to stagflation to the drug and crime epidemics of the 80s to 9/11 to the 2008 financial crisis, America has always encountered fierce challenges and powerful opponents. There have certainly been many examples of American greatness, ingenuity, and moral fortitude, but there have also been too many examples of American weakness, cowardice, and moral failing. America has overcome past challenges, and I have faith that it will continue to overcome the ones that await it in the future. The key, though, is to realize that the past was not some utopia or golden age. It had its fair share of challenges, and indeed, by just about every indicator, was actually worse than the world we find ourselves in now.
Trump is lying and attempting to manipulate those that are proud of their country by pretending that somehow America is now worse off than ever before. The facts do not support this claim in the slightest, and the U.S. does, in fact, have many structural advantages over its potential rivals. First, the shale boom has made America a leading energy exporter and has helped keep petro-states like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela contained. Second, the U.S. has the most solid, stable economy of any OECD nation on the planet. While Europe is in rough economic straights and China’s GDP growth rate and stock market are tanking, the U.S. remains strong. Sure, the U.S. economy is not booming, but it’s doing a heck of a lot better than everyone else’s. Third, the U.S. military is the most dominant force on the planet by leaps and bounds. The U.S. dwarfs the competition in military spending and maintains bases throughout the world, ensuring that American soldiers can surge to any trouble spot in a matter of weeks. Fourth, the U.S. doesn’t have any ideological and powerful enemies like it did during the Cold War. There are certainly other significant and influential countries that compete with the U.S., but none of them are superpowers in the way the U.S.S.R. was. Of course, there are serious problems like wage stagnation, racial and religious strife, and underperforming schools. But, somehow I don’t think Trump is referring to any of these issues when he says America is no longer great. So, in sum, let us dispel with this fiction that America is no longer great. Donald Trump knows exactly what he is doing: lying.