Donald Trump wants to "Make America Great Again". I doubt that anyone can dispute that this is a noble goal. But what does "great" mean when referring to a country or nation state?
I'm afraid Donald Trump's definition of "great" doesn't mesh with mine and I wouldn't want to be associated with his vision, so unfortunately I won't be wearing one of those cool red hats.
For Trump, a "great" America is a country that's white, wealthy, and male-dominated (although served by stereotypically beautiful females), aggressively asserting its dominance over the rest of the world. In Trump's America, "great" is measured exclusively by wealth and power.
For me, a Great America is a country that is respected worldwide for its innovation. We grow by creating, not destroying.
A Great America is diverse, a "melting pot", that effectively utilizes the diverse ideas that come from a rich variety of perspectives and experiences. The growth and success that comes from this diversity is shared among all participants, not just a few white men at the top.
A Great America is compassionate. It's a country that has attained enlightenment but uses that to help others attain enlightenment as well. A Great America understands that it is greatest if the entire world is great. Anytime you have one great country and lots of other not-so-great countries, you have a recipe for resentment, conflict, and terrorism.
So, how can we make America great again?
Start by not electing Trump. His vision is anything but great; it's not even good. And don't elect people who at any point have said they support him, because his vision has always been the same (consistently bad), and if they shared that vision or couldn't recognize it for what it is, they can't be trusted to serve in a public position that has any real responsibility.
Then, consider that timeless quote from John F. Kennedy's inaugural address: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." What can you do? What can we do together?
For my part, I can continue working to make the world more accessible for all members of society. That's been my predominant role for over twenty years, and the community of people who are working with me in this role is growing and expanding which I'm really excited about. America is a great leader in this area, but we're actively working with people around the world, all committed to breaking down technological and societal barriers that prevent certain individuals from fully participating.
But lately I've been wondering whether this is enough. What good is an accessible website if a person has no food or water, or if children are born into a world that is ravaged by war? I wonder how I can contribute toward ending these problems. A Great America is a country that applies its wealth, innovation, and compassion to solving these age-old problems.
I recently asked a question along these lines on Facebook:
Feeling a need to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. I think a good place to start is to help ensure that children in the U.S., plus our neighbors around the world, aren't starving while we enjoy our lavish American feasts (bacon, eggs, & toast with jam this morning for me, plus OJ and several mugs of premium coffee, and I'm already thinking about lunch). Unfortunately somewhere between 10 and 13% of the people in the world are hungry. I know there are lots of organizations that are working to address this problem, but which ones are most effective? Any insights?
I received a lot of excellent recommendations from friends, including organizations that are working internationally to implement sustainable solutions for ending hunger and thirst and attaining peace; as well as groups that are doing similar work on a micro level, within our communities.
I consulted Charity Watch, which conducts in-depth analyses of charities' financial reporting and assigns grades (A+ to F) that reflect their overall efficiency, taking into account such factors as the percentage of total expenses the charity spends on its programs, and the amount of money it costs the charity to raise $100. This is an excellent resource for narrowing the field and identifying top-rated charities in various categories.
There are currently over 600 charities featured on the site, and this doesn't include private foundations that are doing great work such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
These organizations - especially those that are truly effective at doing great work - need our support. Maybe we can contribute financially, or maybe they offer other opportunities for getting involved.
After the Election
The 2016 U.S. presidential election has been divisive and exhausting. I have friends unfriending friends over their differences in opinion. The President of the United States is undeniably an important job, as is the job of supreme court justice, one or more of which the new president will likely appoint. I understand that our national laws and policies have an influence on whether people have to live in poverty, hunger, and thirst, or experience the horrors of war. But these jobs are not the only jobs. There are lots of other jobs too, and regardless of who wins the election there will still be hundreds of organizations and millions of individuals working to solve problems in the world. I plan to join them. And I hope you'll join them too. Let's set politics aside and work together to create solutions and make America (and the world)...