Turning back clock to find great America

To the editor:

I've been doing too much thinking lately about the whole "Make America great again" issue that seems to be sweeping (at least part of) this country. The statement itself implies that America is not so great now, and that at one time it was great. So I'm trying to figure out how far back the clock has to be turned to make America great again.

We can forget about the new millennium, of course, because after 9/11 nothing has really been great. People who have made lots of money in stock market rallies might think America was pretty great when the bucks were rolling in. So when was that? The '90s. That's when Bill Clinton was president, and he got impeached, and some people hate his wife, so, not so great.

The '80s? Big-hair bands, Ronald Reagan. Some people think that might have been great. Iran-Contra, arms for hostages, the Challenger disaster. No greatness there. The '70s? Disco, leisure suits, Jimmy Carter. Great? Mediocre at best, although some of my musician friends loved the classic rock of that decade. The '60s? Things were sort of great with the whole Camelot thing, the Beatles (although they were British), the 1964-'65 World's Fair and Woodstock, but after the assassinations, the riots, and Vietnam, not so great.


If we take any given period in history, there will be good things and there will be bad things. Sure, there was a tremendous period of national pride after victory in the first two world wars, but for how long? There were periods of prosperity after those wars (think the "Roaring '20s" and the "Fabulous '50s"), but then there was the Depression of the 1930s and the "Red Scare" and fear of "the bomb" while Ike was playing golf. Were things great in the 1800s? Depending on what color your skin was things might not have been too good at all.

If and when America was great makes for good dinner conversation — do people still do that or are they looking at their phones? And it makes a good slogan to put on a hat.

Alan Gold, Pittsfield