By Joseph Iemma
Assistant Features Editor
It’s been a good 239 years since we decided to tell Great Britain, which at the time was the face of imperialism, that we’d rather be a country then a band of colonies, and if you (Britain) have problem with that, let’s have a war about it. It’s been 153 years since Abraham Lincoln gave us the Gettysburg Address, that reminded us how great a country America is despite our gruesome flaws and tendencies.
Fast-forward 153 years and it’s safe to say that America has built quite a resume. We’ve survived two world wars, we’ve built the best economy mankind has ever seen, we passed civil rights laws that make sure that every American, no matter their skin color, gender, race, disability, can fully pursue their right to happiness without discrimination or government intervention. Oh, and by the way we, yes we, set the world wide standard for excellence. An overall excellence that every country on Earth strives to achieve, but ultimately can’t.
However, this is not an ‘America is great’ article; it’s about America’s identity, and why for some reason we seem to be losing that emboldened sense of pride in our culture and our very being during the 2016 presidential election.
Election cycles are so intriguing to people like myself because every four years we take a collective look in the mirror. We see ourselves as a people, the pros and cons of the way we live our lives, and ultimately we see the direction we are going as a nation. As Americans, we do our best to assess ourselves honestly, and thus, we attempt to elect a candidate who best fits the American prerogative for the next four years while emulating the best image of what America truly is all about.
With that said, let’s take a look at the candidates who are asking for our vote to become the next president.
Donald Trump promises that he’ll ‘Make America Great Again’, that we’ll ‘build a wall’ with Mexico and that ‘we’ll win so much we’ll be sick of winning!’ However, Trump never seems to give you the plan on how he’ll accomplish these ‘ideas’ but trust me, he’ll get them done, he’ll make us great again. *insert sarcasm here*
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who seemingly is the antiTrump, promises you that he’ll ‘make the top one percent pay their fair share,’ that he’ll decriminalize marijuana and that he’ll revive American public schools and infrastructure.
Hilary Clinton, the former Secretary of State, First Lady and senator of New York, promises to reform Obamacare, not increase taxes for the middle class, improve women’s rights, and revive American industry. However, like most politicians in the 1990s, she supported the North American Free Trade Agreement, which ultimately has led to millions of manufacturing jobs leaving the U.S. and she is currently under investigation by the FBI for “handing over the private email server she used while she was Secretary of State to the Justice Department,” CNN’s Elise Labott reports.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, promises a flat tax of just 10 percent for all Americans, including those who own businesses or are part of the highest tax brackets. However, Cruz has been best known for aiding in government shutdowns, as well as being ‘hated’ by other members according to candidates Donald Trump, including former candidate Marco Rubio. These are not erroneous claims, as it took Cruz almost ten months to earn an endorsement from just one colleague of his from the Senate, Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Also, his calls for the ‘patrolling of Muslim neighborhoods’ has made Cruz seem like xenophobiac, so much so that NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said “That’s why he’ll never be President,” when a reporter asked him about Cruz’s proposed policy in wake of the Brussels attacks.
Finally, John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio who has been on the record saying “I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land,” has been mathematically eliminated in terms of receiving the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination. With his only contest win coming from his home state of Ohio, perhaps the Governor thinks he’ll secure the nomination via an ‘open convention.’ However, this seems highly unlikely, and attributes to the reason why both Trump and Cruz are calling for Kasich to drop out of the race.
According to RealClearPolticis.com, which provides cumulative results of polling done across the nation, as recent as March 22, Hilary Clinton had an unfavorability rating of 58%. Donald J. Trump, proudly touts an abominable unfavorability rating of 61.3% according to a Huffington Post poll, but Bernie Sanders, who likely will not secure the Democratic nomination, actually has an unfavorability rate of just 40.3%, according to the same polling site.
Getting back to the original premise, what is America’s identity? Well, before the turn of the century ultimately the September 11th attacks terror attacks, America was recognized as a land of opportunity and a land that fought for the rights of its citizens. I’d make the argument that since September 11th, we’ve lost that pride, that ‘American spunk’. Look at our middle class. On a national level, the data suggests it’s shrinking. According to “The Shrinking Middle Class,” an article published by the New York Times, Alicia Paralapiano, Robert Gebeloff and Shan Cater of the New York Times, found that the middle class had shrunk from 53 percent in 1967, to just 43 percent in 2013. During that time the lower class also shrunk by 6 percent, from 40 percent to 34 percent.
Look at who we just shook hands with, Cuba, an island nation that doesn’t promote capitalism and still jails its citizens for protesting the government. Look at our manufacturing jobs; they’re disappearing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Statistics, about 22.5 percent of American’s held jobs in manufacturing. As of 2011, the number of Americans with jobs in manufacturing fell to just over 10 percent.
Now look back at our candidates who wish to become president. Do you want to know why both Trump and Clinton have such terrible ratings in the polls? In a crucial time like this, they’re not fit for the job. They don’t fit the American mold for president because huge walls, winning, and political correctness, will not, and will never ‘Make America Great Again.” Americans know this, and that’s why most Americans would rather not support the front-runners from each party.
We aren’t a broken nation. We know who we are. We are a proud people who at the core love each other. We are a nation of immigrants who strive for perfection both morally and economically. We are a nation that, despite our differences, unite during the good times and bad. That image of Americans, black, white, rich, poor, gay or straight, all standing together is the American identity, but it seems that lately we are quick to tell each other what’s wrong and why don’t like each other.
In order to lift America back to the global and domestic status it once had, we must recapture the American spirit and embrace it. I don’t believe that will happen this November, and I wonder when it will ever happen again.