Why is America no longer great?

Personally I believe that the United States of America is still a great country.  We have our flaws, but I think the good outweighs by far the bad.

Still Donald Trump has convinced many that America stopped being great.

Ted Cruz argues that he will fight for you [us].

Again I disagree.  I do not want someone to fight for me.  I want an elected official to represent both me and other constituents which is a balancing act.

Balancing because I think we are an exceptional country with many exceptional individuals, and my belief that the United States is exceptional does not mean that other countries are not or that citizens of other countries are somehow less than our best.  To whom much is given, much is expected, and I expect more from myself than I do from others including my students.

Maybe I’m wrong.Perhaps the Trump supporters are correct in that we need to return to greatness.  Perhaps the Cruz supporters are correct in that we need to have someone else fight for us.

To consider more fully the idea that I am the one who is wrong, I looked at these Greta Van Susteren remarks about President Barack Obama following the tragedy resulting from the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

Compare those expectations to what we have for the President to that of what Americans had back on 31 August and 1 September 1983.

The Soviet Union shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 killing 269 people.  Of those killed, 62 were Americans.  One American killed was Congressman Larry McDonald of Georgia who many ranked as one of the most conservative members of Congress.  President Reagan was on vacation in Santa Barbara, California.  He did not rush back to DC.  Instead Secretary of State George Shultz addressed reporters from the White House even though he had not spoken with the President. Larry Speakes, White House spokesperson, addressed reporters in CA.

President Reagan wrote in his diary that evening: “We were due to return to Wash. on Labor Day but realized we couldn’t wait so we left on Fri. It was heartbreaking. I had really looked forward to those last three days. When we got in Fri, I went directly to a NSC (National Security Council) meeting re the Soviet affair.”


The President had harsh words towards the Soviets before boarding the plane in CA.  Four days later, he gave a public address condemning the act of violence.  Aside from words, however, Reagan suggested no actions.  Reagan biographer Paul Kengor quotes Reagan telling National Security Advisor William Clark “to be careful not to overreact to this.”  Apparently any reactions whether military or economic sanctions might threaten the continuing arms control talks.


In 1983 the Cold War remained a fact of life.  The Soviet Union had the capability of destroying planet many times over just as the United States had the capability.  One wrong move meant near certain death for all.  Lucky ones would die immediately, incinerated in the nuclear fireball.  Others would suffer with radiation burns before succumbing.  Others would die from no food and water.  A nuclear winter would kill off any remainders.  No private weaponry; no 2nd Amendment rights; no personal shelters; nothing would preserve the lives of one’s family.  The killer would never been seen or heard.  The killer would come in a flash.

Still, the American people at the time continued to live their lives.  They uttered “better dead than red,” but they relied upon themselves to function.

Today, it’s apparent that the American people need the President to enable them to function.  ISIL may be a barbaric group, but they lack the military might of the old USSR.  The likelihood of dying for both US civilians and military were greater in 1983.  An example of that likelihood was seen on 23 October 1983 when 241 American servicemen (220 Marines, 18 sailors, and 3 soldiers) died from the terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon, along with 58 French paratroopers, 2 civilians, and the 2 suicide bombers who struck.

Still in 1983, the American people shouldered the responsibility for themselves in their outrage and disgust at such cowardly, despicable, and evil attacks spilling gallons of American blood.

In 2012 Americans blamed the President for the deaths of 4 Americans in the attacks at Benghazi.  In 2016, Americans blamed the President for his actions following the attack in Belgium which killed a number of innocent people but numerically less than had boarded KAL 007.

Even back in 2001, with foreign attacks on the US mainland the American people pulled together and did not blame the elected, although controversially elected, President of the United States.  The same is true when domestic terrorists murdered 168 in Oklahoma City, OK, back in 1995.

The unnecessary loss of any life is a tragedy.  A single life lost will be mourned and felt more by those who knew and loved the individual than a thousand lives with whom paths never crossed.  Even so:  “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee” (Donne, Meditation XVII).

In 2012 and 2016, however, the blame is placed upon the President.  Donald Trump, you may be correct, America is no longer great because American citizens have stopped taking responsibility for them themselves and expect/want/need a savior to fix the problems that typical American citizens used to handle themselves not that long ago.

Personally I never believed Barack Obama to be a savior because he is just a man.  I don’t think Donald Trump is a savior either.  Neither is Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders a savior.

American society is different today from back in the 1980s and 1990s.  We seem to have lost some of the common courtesy and respect.  Kids do tend to imitate adults, and if adults find all these excuses to disrespect the President of the United States, why should kids do any different when it comes to the President, teachers, law enforcement, coaches, and even parents?

It is one thing to question, but it is another to disrespect and brazenly flaunt that contempt for someone in a position of authority.

Is there another reason why America stopped being great or exceptional other than we the people have stopped?


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  1. Pingback: Why is America no longer great? — LAB Louisiana Boy | sachemspeaks

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