In the many, many analytical articles that have been written about the still shocking result of the 2016 presidential election, one theme is often repeated: among Clinton's problems was a lack of a compelling message, a strong reason as to why she should be president. The slogan her campaign came up with was the vaguely feminist "I'm With Her", which obviously failed to break through. *
On the other hand, Donald Trump's campaign slogan was, I must admit, simple, catchy and memorable, even if it made me cringe every time I saw it. Part of the success of "Make America Great Again" was that it echoed the slogan of Ronald Reagan's popular 1980 campaign slogan, "Let's Make America Great Again", giving older, Reagan loving voters a nostalgic connection. More importantly, it implied that once upon a time there was a glorious time in America in which all was wonderful, and somehow Trump was going to take us back there. But back where? When exactly was this glorious time?
Well, many people look at the 1950's , as a time when America appeared to be prosperous and happy. The both ridiculed and loved TV shows of that era, like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER and THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET portrayed a peaceful, suburban view of the country, with parents in traditional family roles and children that were respectful of them. In stark contrast to the tumultuous times of the 60's, the 50's are seen as a time of wholesome values.
But were the 50's such a perfect time? Well, as with many things in life, the truth lies in the middle. Culturally, the 1950's was certainly a conservative time, with segregation still the law in Southern states, women treated as second class citizens, and gay people all closeted, it certainly was a good time for heterosexual white men. But here's the odd part of the 50's: it was also a time of progressive economic policies. The top tax rate on the wealthiest Americans was around ninety percent(!).
|Image Take from Business Insider|
Even with all the various write offs and deductions rich people could make, it's safe to say that they were paying a much higher rate than the current rate of thirty nine percent. So the government, led Republican war hero Dwight Eisenhower, had money to spend, and it was mainly spent on three things: education, infrastructure, and scientific research, and the result was the largest growth of the middle class in our nation's history, as better schools, roads, highways and bridges, along with advances in science, made for a happier populace. This is the part of the 1950's that conservatives seems to forget, they just revere the traditional values and forget the part about how government investment in the country made our nation more, well, swell.
Looked at historically, the notion that high taxes on the wealthiest Americans can't lead to economic growth simply doesn't hold up, and yet the Republican mantra of tax cuts for the wealthy is still one that holds sway in modern America. To me it seems to be more about rewarding wealthy campaign donors than spurring the economy. Hopefully, someday the government will come to its senses and realize that government spending, done properly, can result in more of the kind of widespread prosperity that Trump promised but will probably fail to deliver. Interestingly, the one thing I do agree with him on is his proposed plan to increase infrastructure spending by a trillion dollars, which is sorely needed. But, considering his budget and tax proposals don't allow for that kind of spending, it seems that that promise from him is just another one of his many lies.
*And really, this just plays up to the fact that she has often been a hard luck candidate: back in 2008, while running against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, she decided not to play up her gender, and she lost. In 2016 she played up her gender more, (which seemed logical while running against a man with multiple sexual assault charges!), and yet she still lost.