Great Again?

America has grown “great again” in some respects: the economy is strong, employment high, and the stock market keeps surmounting threatening bumps. Inevitably though, doubts about our supposed greatness do arise. How evenly have these developments spread geographically throughout our country. And have they benefited the poorer ranks of the population along with the richer?

Obamacare, we were told, was a “disaster,” but there is no plan in the 2020 budget assigned to take its place. America, it was claimed, had lost a “greatness” from which it is now recovering. But with prices rising and personal debt (to say nothing of the national debt) soaring, is it in fact any easier to enter the middle class now than it was in 2016? And more importantly, is economic advance the only measure of a country’s “greatness” anyway? Is not a society of intensifying partisanship and increasing incivility farther away from growing into greatness than ever?

When a “never Trump” voter will not speak to a Trump acolyte, or vice versa, each minimizes the citizenship they have in common. What does such a rejection of difference indicate about how we have come to relate to each other? What we are now increasingly convinced of, it seems to me, is our essential isolation as individuals. We may be lucky enough to be close to a few family members, a supportive spouse, and a handful of friends (most of these probably temporary). We may even have the sometimes spurious closeness of attendance at a rally, a football game, or a church service. But the feeling of commonality in belonging to a neighborhood or town or city–of that there is now generally very little.

Grim reports in the daily local and national news have always been with us. But they are lately getting grimmer and increasingly attributable to that feeling of hopeless isolation I mentioned above. In future comments I propose to examine some of these more recent reports, emphasizing the need for those larger communities, accepting of difference, that can contribute to our becoming more genuinely “great again.” #economic strength #partisanship #incivility #isolated individuality #sense of community