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Newmann: When heritage trumps fiction

During the past 20 years or so, it seems like we’ve been on the non-Disneyland version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Up, down and all over the place.

We went from 9/11 to a Middle East war. We dropped into a near-financial collapse and later soared to dizzying heights in the markets. We’ve seen racial tensions escalated by police whose mission is to serve and protect — and also witnessed the first president and vice president of color. We’ve been international; we’ve been isolationist. We’ve witnessed divisions that have burgeoned into “extreme right” and “radical left.” We’ve gone from a relatively healthy society to a nation besieged by a pandemic.

And then there’s the current — and unprecedented — situation on Capitol Hill and in the White House.



These are only a handful of events on our wild ride during the past generation. You can easily add quite a few more to the list.

But the point is that, no matter how bad, weird or critical … we always seem to get through these situations. It’s just in our DNA as Americans. We somehow find a way to overcome looming disaster, pull ourselves together and get on with what we have to do. Our greatness has always been our ability to get ourselves back in gear in the face of any peril. And to keep the democratic experiment on its feet.



We certainly do not have to “Make America great again.” MAGA is nonsense. The phrase implies that, somehow, we totally lost the plot and now have to get back on some nebulous course to attain greatness. The slogan sets us up as a nation on the defensive, a country that has fallen from grace and has to rise up again. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact that we’ve been able to motor through a history of crises (including the latest debacle in D.C.) and still maintain our democratic institutions is proof that we are a remarkably resilient country; that we can consistently (somehow) move beyond any and all adversity further underscores that proof.

We are not a utopian society. We have disparities that stretch across all levels of our social strata. We have issues which have been unresolved during our several centuries as a nation and which may remain unresolved in the foreseeable future. For some situations, there is no quick fix … or maybe no fix at all. But that shouldn’t preclude us from still trying to find solutions. Innovation has always been one of our major hallmarks, one that has set us apart in the eyes of the world.

It’s ironic, given recent events, that back in the revolutionary days the separate states bonded together to form the United States. United is the operative word. United is our heritage.

We should never sell ourselves short, never let ourselves be bamboozled into thinking that we are less than what we actually are.

We do not have to make America great again. The mission all along should be — and is — to keep America great.

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 tsnmmf@xtra.co.nz.


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