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  • Rebecca Li

Has conservative America failed to make itself great again?

Dernière mise à jour : 2 juin 2020

Make America Great Again? Has America ever been great? Has the United States of America lost its position as the world’s leading power and more importantly what ideals are we trying to go back to?

It is no secret that ever since the declaration of independence, Americans exuberate a strong sense of patriotism. This feeling of pride has only been accentuated with the country’s various accomplishments; ranging from scientific developments and research all the way to economic growth, for which we can credit the multimillion dollar corporations. The “developed country” has established itself as a global leader and a pioneer of various social movements. As an individualistic society with the notion of liberty deeply embedded within its constitution and within social consensus, many Americans still can’t seem to let go of their “old school” traditional conservative mentality.

It is relatively well known that the election of president Trump has put a strain on the originally tense relationship dynamic amongst various groups within the American society. On one hand, we have the “liberal Americans” or democrats and on the other hand “conservative Americans” known as the republicans. The Trump administration has made electoral promises on weeding out illegal immigrants and this has ignited quite a debate amongst Americans. This matter has enacted the radical conservatism to make its way back and reach its peak ever since its downfall, following the civil rights movement. As a consequence, there is an increasing feeling of disdain toward minority groups which can be felt in this day and age. The Republican Party has instated oppressive policies founded on generalizations and based off discriminative mentality, which has won over many conservative Americans who considered it as the first step towards attaining their goal. Meanwhile, many others have suffered the consequences brought upon by these policies. This have heightened the extremist conservatism which resulted in many terrorist and personal attacks directed directly minorities as well as minority groups.

Over the last few years many news outlets have reported numerous cases of systemic discrimination and harassment towards minority groups. While it isn’t an uncommon phenomenon in the States, more and more videos have surfaced on social media documenting minority groups being harassed and bullied in public spaces such as in coffee shops, planes, supermarkets. Their crime? Speaking their native language in public. Needless to say that no human being should be treated in such manner, the perpetrators would often threaten to call Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) especially when confronted to Spanish speaking people, despite having no tangible evidence that those people are in fact illegal immigrants.

Has America forgotten its roots? That they are in fact descendants of immigrants themselves. A group’s fear of losing their culture, values and language is largely understandable but the chosen melting-pot approach can have extremely negative consequences on the long term. The thought that if you are an American, you should give up your cultural identity and assimilate to the majority is the reason why there exists still, up to this day, discrimination and racism in the country which has hosted and welcomed the most immigrants in the world. Radical conservatism endorsed by the Trump administration has certainly not helped America to be great again but has rather shown the world that they are a close-minded country moving backwards instead of moving forward. Their actions, reflected through the policies they have implemented, have only shown that they are not trying to achieve greatness through innovations but only trying to satisfy their superiority complex as a nation.

In May this year, a video surfaced online showing a man, who later was found to be an attorney, threatening to report Spanish speaking employees and customers at a restaurant in New York City to ICE for taking orders while speaking in a language that is not English although they are in America. This phenomenon has been more and more common under the Trump administration and is very well documented thanks to the accessibility to technological means. Another example of incident of this sort happened, just this past week, a man called a woman of color all sorts of names and disrespected her in many other ways on a flight. Despite all that, the man got away with his behavior and wasn’t asked out of the flight for disorderly conduct. These are only to shine light on a few cases amongst the countless incidents that happens every day.

These incidents seem shocking, hence making the headlines or various reports both domestically and internationally. This shows that a consensus exists on that kind of behavior; despite being widely unacceptable, it is being tolerated by many up to this day. That being said, we can conclude that generally, people don’t perceive minorities negatively if they speak in their native language public areas. As many Americans know the struggles and are themselves first, second, third generation immigrants, these people came to the United States and left all they had behind in hopes of getting a better life for themselves and their families. Their journey’s purpose is to try their chance at living the American Dream, their ultimate goal is to successfully integrate as members of a foreign country without rejecting their own cultural backgrounds.

Looking at it from this perspective, I was able to formulate the hypothesis that despite being avant-gardist, the United States can’t seem to break free from their traditional values shaped by this mentality. It can largely be attributed or has perhaps derived from their country’s complex history. This consists of a central element as the source of this cycle of never-ending fear of the different and the unknown. Rejection of the cultural pluralism approach reassures that nothing should command change within America. This as many believe, is the solution for a country who is or use to be a global leader and economic powerhouse to conserve its position, or perhaps gain it back once and for all.

While understanding a little bit more on where all of this is coming from, it is still difficult to conceive and to align with this approach adopted by certain people and their chosen methods to deal with various situations. It is certainly not by harassing, insulting and spitting out racist hurtful remarks to minority groups or by carrying out gratuitous violent acts that will help them attain their goal since violence is never the answer.

Rather people should rethink and adapt to the new realities of society and forge little by little new goals to attain. As for now, the focus isn’t or at least shouldn’t be on which country is the best, the strongest or the biggest, like it used to be historically. Now the competition doesn’t lie on which country is going to be the first to send men on the moon nor who will be the big winners in the arms race but rather focusing on solving problems and crisis to which all countries of the world are faced and on finding ways to preserve the environment and assuring sustainable development.

Since the interests have shifted as a result of globalization, thus, making sure America retains its position as the world’s leading power shouldn’t be given such great importance. In this sense, the patriotism as explained throughout this article and the conservative ideologies are outdated and individuals, in this case, Americans must stand together no matter their cultural-ethnic backgrounds and look beyond the invisible barriers confining them in order to tackle greater issues.

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