Newmann: Great expectations |

Newmann: Great expectations

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” — Socrates, 470-399 BC

“Make America Great Again” has been a rather familiar refrain from one particular quarter for the past six or so years. And while it’s a pretty catchy slogan … well, it also seems to do the country a great disservice. Because it also intimates, by its very tone, that we’re not a great nation anymore.

So how about something like, “Make America Even Better.” Seems to be a bit more positive. And might also keep any inferiority complexes at bay.

We’re starting to move into the electoral silly season, with the upcoming (at least upcoming in a couple of Novembers) contest for the nation’s leadership. We’ve already got a few folks who have thrown their hats into the ring. And more contestants will enter in the coming weeks and months. With a bit of luck, we should be able to find contenders on both sides who have not already been impeached a couple of times and are not facing criminal indictments. Some of these folks, if elected, could actually strive to make America even better.

And speaking of better, how about the members of Congress who seemingly represent all of us? Wouldn’t it make America even better (greater?) if they could kind of get it together and accomplish more on a bipartisan basis? The spirit of divisiveness that exists now … gosh, it certainly doesn’t jibe much with greatness. We can certainly do better than where we’re at now if we start to create a bit more consensus. As Lincoln mentioned about a century and a half ago, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”

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Of course, issues abound for every individual, for every family … and for every nation. And, in terms of the latter, our country is very unique. Our democracy is still a pretty fragile experiment. But it’s been carrying on for about two and a half centuries and has been able to weather a series of challenges from without and within. Like many families, there’s an innate ability to rally together against outside threats. But internal divisiveness can be a bit of a different story. And can erode unity. A great nation has to withstand those internal challenges to remain great.

The founders of this country were some pretty high-powered folks. Many of them were an amalgam of scientists, inventors, philosophers, farmers, intellectuals and writers. They were, for the most part, very learned individuals. And, as individuals, they also had some very strong egos, bickered amongst themselves, had some different philosophies on how various aspects of the country should be handled and, in some cases, harbored an immense dislike for one another.

And yet they were able to pull off the birth of a great nation. And to nurse it along.

So maybe our task is not to make the country great again … but to keep it great.

And to be the stewards who make sure that it becomes even better.

Tom Newmann splits his time between Edwards and Queenstown, New Zealand. He has been going winter-to-winter since 1986. He was also a journalist in Missoula, Montana, at the Missoulian for quite a few years. Email him at

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