Author Topic: "Making America Great Again" in The Newsroom  (Read 4998 times)

Pete at Home

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"Making America Great Again" in The Newsroom
« on: July 20, 2016, 02:57:25 AM »
fact-- Trump has literally trademarked the Reagan phrase "Make America Great Again," but offers no serious plans as to how to accomplish that.

fact -- the response to Trump from the left is to shriek about past wrongs that America committed, implying, in essence, that America is greater today because we have same sex marriage, than it ever was.

and yet while the makers of "The Newsroom" are probably not Trump fans, they seem to agree with the premise that America has lost its greatness, and that we need to recognize that and make it great again.  If you want to make sense of this thread, you really need to watch this video.

The clip is dead wrong on four minor points --

1. wrong that there is nothing positive in which America is the greatest. [the USA is the greatest in its contributions to HIV and cancer research, and that's nothing that a person who can look herself in the mirror should sneer at];
2. wrong on the claim that america has the highest # of people who think angels are real; that honor goes to Madagascar;
3. tragically wrong in distracting from an otherwise brilliant and candid speech into a whorish cheap shot at people who believe in angels. That's precisely the sort of self-aggrandizing cheap shot that's turned our elections into an international joke.  Such pointless divisive rhetoric provides edge governments like China Russia and Turkey with an all excusing cautionary tale against the dangers of unbridled freedom of speech. 
4. tragically wrong in scapegoating Millenials as the "worst.generation.ever" without considering who raised that generation and provided its expectations.

-- but the clip is otherwise brilliant and on point.  As if answering the politically correct hacks that write off our Greatest Generation as the generations that "bombed hiroshima and Nagasaki, Jeff Daniels' character says--
It sure used to be. We stood up for what was right, we fought for moral reasons, we passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured disease, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it, it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy.... We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered.
First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.

From what I've seen, from listening to my grandfather and reading Vonnegut, I don't think the Greatest Generation thought of themselves as the Greatest generation.  There is nevertheless something great in them to which we can aspire.  I don't know that it's objectively provable or useful, to say that at any point in history, that america was "the greatest" country in the world.  I think we've done extraordinary things, but more importantly, we've been guided by a dream that is great, that there is, or was, a dream of America which once led us to greatness, even if we never at any time lived up to the greatness of the dream.  Isn't this what Lincoln was saying with --

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

wasn't lincoln's whole point that we had yet to live up to that promise?

Wasn't that Martin Luther King's point in alluding to Lincoln's speech--

ive score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.

--that the great dream and promise of America remained unrealized?

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

America has always come closest to living up to its promise, when it acknowledges that it has stumbled, and looks upward from the dirt at the dream of what could be.

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967

I don't see the promise of American greatness in either of the major candidates.  I hope to be proved wrong.  but even if I am right, the idea of America has survived presidents such as James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson and Woodrow Wilson.  Perhaps there is a measure of greatness we can aspire to despite who sits in the Oval Office for the next 4-8 years.


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Re: "Making America Great Again" in The Newsroom
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2016, 10:55:06 AM »
When people use words like greatness and freedom I never know what they mean anymore. Perhaps that’s the difference. Maybe the greatest generation, which would never have thought of themselves in that way while they were serving, had a clearer vision of what the word pointed at – and that it required having character.

Today I think the word greatness is associated with the word power to control. To be great… again is to be free to be free is to be able to control… Any time we protect freedom we must at the same time restrict it. (Perhaps that’s why that even though republican’s primary intention is limiting government the government grows larger when they are in power.  Just think how much Government intervention would be required to fulfill the agenda of Trump. )

Would such government intervention in the name of ‘protecting’ freedom in such a way be great… again? 

When character no longer matters. When a man is admired because “he says it like he sees it”, even though to do so he misrepresents facts, outright lies, focus on the negative, bully’s and never actually says anything. Is that great… again?

How does having supporters that don’t care enough to read the platform there party is presenting (why would they when even the leader of a party doesn’t care what written in the platform) make America great…. again.  Supporters that will forgive any transgression of their leader that they would not and will not tolerate coming from anyone else….  What the frack is going on!!!! How do you become great… again without character?   

America is playing with fire.

Greatness like Freedom are words that no longer point to anything, no longer a symbol or ideal to strive for, but a manipulation, the map becoming the territory that takes you nowhere.

And what is it with this attraction the world seems to have to men with strange grooming styles and gestures seeking power?  Never turns out well.

It was very appropriate that Trump emerged on stage of the GOP convention as a shadow

Pete at Home

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Re: "Making America Great Again" in The Newsroom
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2016, 01:36:07 PM »
I think it's both beautiful and tragically ironic that the right and left both seem to recognize many of the same things in the American Dream, and that we've failed to live up to that dream.  The irony and tragedy seems to be that we hate each other more than we love that dream that used to be America.


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Re: "Making America Great Again" in The Newsroom
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2016, 02:25:25 PM »
What happened?

Pre 9-11 I have a sense that in general people were becoming more conscious and learning how to respond to events instead of react to them. There was an optimism even when crap happened.
Or was that just an illusion of innocents on my part that time always erodes.

What was this greatness that we were/are seeking that is no more?

If the philosophers are correct then character is an important quality of greatness for a leader and people. If character is what we admire about the greatness past how can a leader that does not demonstrate character in their actions or words re-create this greatness?

I am totally genuinely perplexed.


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Re: "Making America Great Again" in The Newsroom
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2016, 02:53:48 PM »
I don't think we've lost anything that was Great.  I think when we write our own history we're able to weave Greatness into the narrative, if we want to, and we're also able to envision Greatness in our future.  What we aren't able to do is agree on whether we're moving in the right direction. 

The Information Age is hitting its stride, and that is Great.  As a result, the world is getting smaller all the time, and that is Great.  As another result, horrors are more evident in our past and present than ever before, and that worries and distracts us, but it's probably also a prerequisite for curing the endemic sicknesses we see around us - which would be Great.


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Re: "Making America Great Again" in The Newsroom
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2016, 03:59:28 PM »
Pre 9-11 I have a sense that in general people were becoming more conscious and learning how to respond to events instead of react to them. There was an optimism even when crap happened.
Or was that just an illusion of innocents on my part that time always erodes.

I think the 80's and 90's were a time of incredible blindness and lack of awareness within America. It was simultaneously a time of optimism and of willful ignorance. I don't know that there's been a time in American history when Americans were so happy at apparent progress (aka corporatism) while being utterly unconcerned with actual reality. For those like me that grew up in the 80's I think it felt like a carefree time (even despite Iraq 1.0) that somehow has been lost, but in hindsight I recognize that this feeling probably came as a result of great success in the marketing of uplifting-type branding. Right after Vietnam a lot of TV and film was about the horrors of war; almost like an I-told-you-so from the anti-war crowd, and geared towards trying to deal with what happened. But soon enough that "America is wounded" air washed away and was replaced with this light-hearted but whitewashed version of reality. It should probably come as a warning when things seem really upbeat even though systemically nothing has changed.

I think right now the populace is much more willing than before to open its eyes and see things for what they are, except this is extremely difficult to do because when opening one's eyes for the first time it can be very hard to know what to zero in on. We now have entire primary races (like the GOP one) which were focused on trying to rally the people behind stopping the old-boys-club in Washington, getting out of control international events under control, and 'making America great again." As Pete has recently put it a few times, it's the "look! a bird!" strategy of taking the desire for people to see real problems and directing their attention towards hallucinations that will satisfy their desire for change without actually exposing them to the real problems.

Bernie was popular with the left because he had no compunctions about naming real bad actors, rather than pointing towards boogeymen. He at the very least established a kind of trust with his followers, where I think they believed that he was honestly trying to fulfill their desire to become aware of the ongoing problems in America.


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Re: "Making America Great Again" in The Newsroom
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2016, 04:16:19 PM »
What happened?

I think you should look at this in the context of what changed in politics.  Specifically, the Democrats controlled the House in an almost unbroken chain from the 1930s until 1995, and controlled the Senate for the majority of that time as well (often with veto proof majorities).  As the clear majority party and dominant party, they let their internal power struggles float to the top and often saw other Democrats as their primary opponents to frustrate and undermine.  This meant that we often ended up with big compromises where they made deals with the Republicans almost like a third party to tip the scales.  What we didn't see was a straight line extreme left agenda being the only Democratic agenda that was acceptable.

From and after 1995, the Democrats have only had control for a brief period when Obama was first elected.  It is clearly evident from their voting patterns (and deliberate frustrations of voting) that they believe that party loyalty is now the primary - if not the only - admirable trait for the legislature.  Essentially, they "learned" the lesson that division cost them.  Of course, this means there is far less intra-party diversity of ideas and almost no tolerance for crossing the aisles and working together.

Hyper partisanship as the only game in town because fragmentation leads to unacceptable loss of power.  This will remain the case until and unless one party so overwhelms the other that it's internal disputes can rise to the front (this has happened to the Republicans a few times as well - see the history of the Hastert rule).  But for so long as we have a close to even split polarization will be the rule.