At some point, at some indistinguishable time in recent history, someone decided that it would be cool to dispense with the traditional notion of humility and to brashly brag about his or her worth or achievements. At that moment, and for some moments after, it was refreshing; it was refreshing because it flew in the face of propriety. But because of this, eventually, confidence got confused with arrogance, and braggadocio became the norm.
Then, the landslide began and it went out of fashion to be subtle or to maintain composure, at least in terms of one's words, and people started just saying whatever they felt like saying. And that is where we are...
...and that is why we have a presidential candidate openly saying that America is no longer great.
I'm not a flag-waving patriot. I don't dwell in America as if I were a rabid fan at a football game: go team, and all that. But I do have a deep pride in many aspects of American culture; in its literature and in its music and in its historical sense of rugged individualism. There is a spirit here that lives nowhere else; maybe not better than anywhere else, but a spirit all its own. There are also numerous, gaping flaws in this country, but, as a whole, we do pretty well. And there is still "greatness" here.
As President Obama pointed out last night, we are a world leader. We ever have been and we still are. We still have the most powerful military in the world. We still innovate and we still have some of the finest educational institutions in the world. There's a lot of greatness in America.
If Trump defines being great as being a world bully; if he defines it as bragging to the world about our power; if he defines it as turning our backs completely on those who need our help or if he defines it as completely abandoning diplomacy, whatever the consequences, then, no we haven't been great. If he does define greatness this way, I don't want us to be great.
It amazes me that social mores have shifted so much that we are okay with (even enthusiastic about) a presidential candidate saying that the country is a mess. Brashness has become so accepted that we cheer it, no matter the stage on which it appears. Of course, there is a lot wrapped up in people's acceptance -- and even strong support -- of this, not the least of which is a suspiciously vigorous disliking ("worst president ever") for the first African American President of the United states, but that's a whole other issue.
What we really need to do is to make America "classy" again.