Despite being declared the greatest democracy in history and being exceptionally blessed, America and its dominant group have not been and are not being prepared for greatness. It is true that if and when one reads documents such as its Declaration of Independence and Constitution, America seems heads and shoulders above most other countries. Furthermore, as long as one does not plunge deeper beyond the fact that all of its presidents have been “elected by the people,” it may look very good.
The problem is that even that initial document, the Declaration of Independence, was written and approved by hypocrites and much that is noteworthy about the Constitution resulted from the process of amending it over centuries. The truth of the matter being that, for most of its life, the United States of America has been run by wealthy, white middle-aged males. Neither poor white men, white women, or non-white people period have been able to be effective, fully-functional citizens throughout much of its history.
One can approach the matter from the standpoint of this land being literally stolen and taken from the Native Americans, being developed by enslaved African laborers, with additional cheap labor coming from immigrant Asian laborers and migrants from Latin America. None of these groups were treated as first-class citizens. To add to the tragic condition, America’s history is littered with accounts of lynchings and race riots that killed thousands of these “second-class” citizens. The disregard for non-white lives continues as police reforms, which could diminish the cases, are refused by governments at all levels.
One can approach the matter of greatness from the standpoint of the executive orders and court decisions, such as the Dred Scott and Plessey vs. Ferguson decisions, that took away rights that apparently could have made life easier for non-whites and made democracy more real. Even contemporarily, legislation and court decisions are taking away abortion rights, voting rights, and other rights that had been hard-won over the years.
One can approach the matter of America’s greatness from the standpoint of the lack of effective policies that would rid the country of the practices of bias and discrimination when it comes to economic and educational opportunities, housing and health care benefits, and health and safety protections. Virtually every community is characterized by racial and gender disparities in those areas. It should also be pointed out that while individuals, including President Bill Clinton or Pope Francis, have issued apologies, there still have been no comprehensive reparations or affirmative action programs to help African Americans to overcome the generations of enslavement, discrimination, and oppression.
Finally, one should be impressed by the fact that the United States of America has never fully embraced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved by the United Nations nor fully supported actions of the United Nations that could help non-white people around the globe.
The bottom-line is that the concept of race, and the selfishness that undergirds it, have run amuck at least since the advent of the so-called age of discovery and exploration. The European “discovery” of the New World and its invasion of the Americas and Africa opened the floodgates. Their descendants have aggressively sought to dominate and control Africa, the Americas, Australia, and Oceania from that point forward.
As one fast-forwards to the twenty-first century, the portrait of contemporary America becomes understandably clear. Census data revealed that, by mid-century, white citizens would be in the minority; white males, a very distinct minority. With that revelation, it did not take long for many white males to begin organizing white militia and terrorist groups, and to heavily promote white nationalist ideologies. Thus, more than Donald Trump is responsible for these expressions of open hostility toward non-white immigrants, toward Black people, and toward any group or party that seems to advocate multiracial or multicultural democracy. (Trump just recognized the phenomenon and joined his fellow-travelers, stoking the fire at every opportunity.)
We, therefore, stand today on the edge of a civil war whose foundation is the firm desire of many white Americans to retain societal privileges and advantages. On one side is the growing number of non-white citizens who desire to see the realization of the dream perpetuated by the Declaration of Independence and the welcoming promise on the base of the Statute of Liberty. They are supported by a minority of white individuals who stand to gain or retain power through their unity with non-white people (or in some cases, who have developed the intellectual and/or moral rigor to stand for what is right). On the other side is the diminishing number of white people who are determined to retain control of the country’s political and economic power and of society’s privileged position.
America could become great if it developed the intellectual and moral strength to actualize and have the courts and everyday people uphold and live by the noble principles and ideals that are espoused in the Declaration of Independence. It could prepare its citizens for greatness by teaching them the full historical truth through every medium and at every opportunity rather than “whitewashing” history under the guise of fighting critical race theory. It could prepare them by modeling the principle called the golden rule rather than having one public for whites and another for everybody else, or having one welcome mat for Christians and another for everyone else. America may have a general framework for building greatness, but it must be worked-on immediately and effectively if the country is to ever become great the first time.