Reaction to Making “America White Again”

Making headlines across the country, Rick Tyler, running for a congressional seat from the 3rd district of Tennessee, put up a billboard with the words “Make America White Again” to bring publicity to his campaign. In an interview he practically admitted it was to stir up controversy, but still claimed there was a great amount of truth to it. In his own words he wanted to go back to the America of the 1960’s, or what he calls the “Ozzie and Harriet” or the “Leave it to Beaver” America. But something striking about this interview is how completely composed the man is: he speaks intelligently (or just what he regards as intelligent sounding), he has his ideas clear and articulates, he even provides a few shady statistics to reinforce his claims.

There were already speculations about the true meaning of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and what it actually meant, but Tyler’s slogan takes all suspicion out of it. He confirms our suspicions in a way that even the demagoguery of Trump would not dare to do.

While it is more than easy to refute Tyler’s claim that the supposed degradation of America is due to non-Caucasians, his slogan reveals some unsettling truths about the state of reactionary politics. The first thing to really analyze is what exactly these reactionaries are responding to. You could point to the obvious and say it is Tyler’s point that the ratio of whites in the country has shifted, but that almost seems too easy. But as made clear by the interview, his feelings could not be self-justified if he felt a good amount of social dominance from the white community. It is not merely the number that has changed, it is their status in the social spectrum. Whether this is actually true or not, meaning even if there is no true evidence to fully support this claim, this is what the reactionary community feels is happening.

Rick Tyler
According to Ballotpedia, Rick Tyler ran for a seat in the Senate in 2014, but only received 0.4% of the total vote.

So reactionaries feel they’re becoming inferior, which makes it natural for them to strike back in hopes of reclaiming their supposed superiority. This is where the fundamentalist “Make America Great Again” comes from. The natural question arises “When was it ever great?” This is merely speculation, but for many conservatives it is represented by the Reagan era. The emergence of neo-conservatism in the 1980’s is well documented, but is the slogan “Make America Great Again” not the failure of the Reagan project? Meaning that the conservative promises made by Reagan and other neo-con politicians deteriorated into animosity and bitterness at the modern era. With this conclusion, it is almost fair to say that Trump is the failed Reagan. And others, such as Rick Tyler, are just following his lead.

It’s interesting to note that this isn’t a new feeling at all. There has always been a great deal of American exceptionalism floating around, with the feeling becoming more prominent in some periods more than others. In 1938, the poet Langston Hughes wrote a response to the same reactionary sentiment we see today in his poem “Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Again this is all mere speculations, and sadly attempts at scientifically supporting this may end up being superficial. The last important thing to consider though is, “What will satisfy the reactionaries?” and this may be the most crucial. Here I have to disagree with many other speculators out there. I do not see the fundamentalist movement as an ‘all or nothing’ type campaign. There will be no conservative revolution if Trump is not elected, as many silently hope for. The most important thing to is to simply change, to take a different approach from the actions of the Obama administration which they over vilify. Sadly however, many reactionary conservatives view Clinton as the extended arm of Obama if not viewing her as the devil itself. In which case her name may blind them of any change she brings about and they will continue to protest her very being. In this case I wish Clinton would reproach her fake progressivism and go back to her moderate stances, simply so the progressive ideas won’t leave a dirty taste in conservative’s mouths.

Rick Tyler’s anger may be justified in some twisted way, but he is wholly misguided. The conservative atavist utopia he seems to have created in his head is nowhere near to being created. For anybody looking for optimism in these deeply irrational times, just remember: they can’t stay angry forever.

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18 thoughts on “Reaction to Making “America White Again”

  1. If he only got 0.4% of the vote the last time he ran, it seems that among those who are “reactionaries” and take time out of their busy schedules to vote, he’s not very popular, and even less so among the general group of constituents. In other words, this idiot is in a minority of a minority, and hardly representative of…well, anything, really.
    But I do enjoy the way you write 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The one people, one nation rhetoric is, like, so 1930s. But, which Reaganesque achievement would Trump be most capable – allying with a ruthless leader like Pinochet, escalating a Cold War, selling chemical weapons, overseeing an Iran-Contra type affair, or expanding the national debt? Tyler’s appeal to television shows for a description of reality is a master stroke because, after that, his position is unassailable. For example, I have such a hard time convincing my niece that Shere Khan is not real because a discourse about him requires that I acknowledge the derivative fantasy.

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  3. It’s just another example of people trying to return to a time that never really existed in the first place. There never was any “ideal America.” Our nation has been in decline since the end of World War II due to mass commercialization and poor leadership. What does America stand for? Why should we be proud of our nation? There are no clear answers to those questions anymore. We’re about making money and being an American means spending money and keeping the pockets of the wealthy lined with the souls of the middle class. No wonder people want change. They just forget that things can always get worse. Ask Germany…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I started to listen to the interview and could only stand three minutes of that tripe. First, I am a baby boomer. The fifties and sixties reflected my generation. Economically is was a great time, even for blacks and Hispanics as well as Asians. Social issues were moving to the forefront as they always do, but what is interesting about the black community was that being segregated meant their economic development was in many ways protected. The dry cleaner, the pharmacist, the family doctor, and many other businesses were protected by segregation. Not that segregation is a good thing but that was the economic effect. In terms of education black schools may not have had the money and the equipment or latest books but they had higher rates of graduation. I would refer you to Thomas Sowell and other black intellectuals. The black community had their own banks, construction companies, and informal court systems. But more than that, the black out of wedlock birth rate was as low as the white out of wedlock birthrate. The family unit was far more intact.

    So what happened? In the thirties came the “Dole”, a welfare program initiated by the federal government. After the war this graduated into the beginning of a welfare program. I won’t go into the details, the information is open to any researcher. In the early sixties there were those in social science and sociology departments who were advocating for an increase in welfare payments, job training, and the like. Columbia University was at the forefront of this movement. When Lyndon Johnson got his “Great Society” program passed by Congress many on the left in these university departments saw a golden opportunity to bring the government down. To do this they would canvas the poor neighborhoods, including the black neighborhoods and try to induce women with children to sign up for the welfare benefits. Of course at the time a woman’s husband and father of her children would have to abandon her and take up residence elsewhere. Separations, divorce, and abandonment increased as did the welfare rolls. The out of wedlock births increased greatly as did the single parent family. And the high school graduation rate diminished. All of this is documented and is in the literature although there have been so many turf fights it is often difficult to pick out the right data. Be that as it may.

    So, was there really an Ozzie and Harriet America? Yes there was. Just and there was an Andy Hardy America a generation prior. Did everyone belong? Oh hell no, not on your tin type. But it existed for a great many individuals and families, depending on geographical location and economic status. Small towns have been emptied out and the population shifted to the cities and surrounding suburbs. Life changes and we baby boomers saw quite a bit of that change, at least those of us who are older than sixty. Of course the cold war and the threat of nuclear war had a great effect on our perceptions and thinking. But can we ever go back again? Again, oh hell no. The population increase has made that virtually impossible. Second, segregation would cause too much dislocation (not going to talk about racism due to the stupidity that passes as current thought on “racial relations) and would not achieve anything positive, either socially, economically, or educationally.

    My Tyler is living in a dream world of his own making and his “white world” never was what he thinks it should have been. I would not care to revisit the social problems of that era. On the other hand, if we ripped out the nanny state and the welfare state and the security state, then we might have a chance to create a good society. And it wouldn’t hurt to stop trying to turn ever country not like us into a democracy through regime change. Hilary for world dictator 2016 is not the solution unless one endorses extreme corruption. And no, I don’t care much for Trump, either.

    Liked by 3 people

    • A lot of interesting comments here, and I am not a U.S. history scholar or of the age to remember changes from sixty years ago, however from second-hand experience, the fifties and sixties seem to be better represented by the exclusivity suggested at the end of your response than the inclusivity described in the first paragraph, and from secondary sources that the Golden Age of Capitalism was helped by war profits, advantages in the global economy, and social programs of preceding decades. I spend a lot of time with first and second generation Americans, from both Asia and Africa, who despite being antagonized believe there is enormous opportunity here, that America ‘is’ great. Fortunately, the constitution prevents centralized power so there cannot be a dictator in the near future; progressive democracy, sec. Lippmann, relies on manipulation of an ignorant populace.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Fair enough. Of course most people really do not know what capitalism is, which is unfortunate and those Bernie fans who want democratic socialism are the most ignorant for they really do not understand socialism or economics. If one saves money our of one’s earnings or wages and then uses those savings to open a business of some sort, one is a capitalist, pure and simple. Capitalism is not about stocks and bonds and corporations. It existed long before such things became legal entities. Yes, one could say that the fifties were the golden aged of capitalism as expressed by corporations. Only a few corporations were truly large by the standards of that day. Now they would not make Fortune’s 500 listing, go figure. It’s a matter of scale. We didn’t really have “global corporations”. Those came later, the seventies started that trend to what we have now, which is corporate governance that is ungovernable. We still had relatively free markets unlike today where regulations choke businesses to the point of strangulation. Don’t think so, go and try to do some start up of a business, doesn’t matter what it is. see all the regulations and forms and inspections, well, far different than now. Hell, a kid can’t do a lemonade stand without running afoul of the law. Mrs Fields would have a very hard time trying to start up her cookie business.

        But more than that, there was a fair amount of employment in the country for the unskilled. True, it paid minimum wage but those weren’t meant to be jobs for life, they were stepping stones. Ferguson Missouri used to have some industry in the fifties. Now it has almost nothing. So what do people do for work? Most don’t, most collect some form of welfare. Ferguson wasn’t 60% black in the fifties. But as employment left those who could afford to follow the work where ever it went left and the rents went down. So now we see more poor people, most of who are black, living in what had once been a middle class city.

        Now if you are a CEO of even a corporation in Fortune’s 1000, you may think this is the golden age of capitalism. But it’s not. Ever since Nixon took us off the gold standard inflation has eaten away at the values of assets and currency. the worse part is the amount of credit that the FED and the banks have pumped into the economy. If the FED had merely printed billions of hundred dollar bills you would soon have seen hyperinflation, the kind they had in Wiemar Germany. But credit is a very insidious problem. The hyper inflation is in the price of assets. Housing, commercial real estate, raw materials, the list is long. And it creates its own ponzi scheme. You see, value has to be anchored to something and by using credit, there is no anchor.

        the funny thing is that politics has taken the same way as our economic policy. In Eisenhower’s time a Bill and Hilary could never get elected. Or if they did, their peccadilloes would have led to their resignation immediately. Don’t think I am picking only on democrats. It’s a downright disgrace that the only non millionaires in congress are the first term representatives. That is an easy fact to check out, by the way. now one enters public service to get rich, not to render service to one’s voters or country.

        So Mr Tyler sounds too much like the typical white demigod. I have heard that kind of speech before and I despise it. It’s cheap, it’s mean, and it stops just short of racism, barely.

        As to whether there is opportunity in this country, the answer is yes, but not for all and has little to do with “racism” or all the other complaints. It has to do with the fact that we sold our souls to the likes of corporate America. We welcomed Walmart, which actually kept the rate of consumer price inflation down with cheap Chinese imports while much of corporate America was busy exporting our jobs. The unskilled are always the first to be hurt. Of course when we allow illegal immigration (no, it’s not undocumented people yearning to be free, that’s like saying the guy who robs you is merely trying to do his best to support himself) the greatest effect is on the unskilled workers. They must either be willing to take considerably less wage for the work or sit at home. Do you start to see the interconnections?

        As far as the constitution, well, if the president declares an emergency and abrogates the constitution, who will stop him? Some court? Doesn’t stop Obama for a moment, does it? Don’t think for a moment that the party who controls the presidency and congress can’t become a bunch of fascist dictators. It can happen and all too easily. the question is will it happen? I hope not.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. A Connection between this guy’s goofy slogan and Trump’s slogan?
    If you wanted to make a connection based on personal opinion that succeeded. But to say hijacking Trump’s slogan to this guys twisted version has a real connection, that failed.

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      • I apologize for the late reply – Tyler may have been inspired to use Trump’s slogan. But to use that as evidence Trump is racist is not just a stretch – its a giant leap. I have seen too much from Trump to the contrary. I am not coming here as a Trump sycophant, but I do like accurate representations of a person, not the slanted media-generated representation.

        Have you seen these African American Gentlemen supporting Trump, and discussing racism? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbNI48XOJo8

        Another YouTube Post “Breaking the media lies”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIIu9nTwMzA

        And these “unlikely” ladies really crack me up (Lynette and Rochelle) saying Trump supports Black Lives Who Matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5S5N82PLsRE

        I hope you take the time to watch. It could be eye opening. It’s definitely entertaining. But more importantly, its real people.

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  6. >”…but for many conservatives it is represented by the Reagan era.”

    In the Reagan era, conservatives were already saying “make America great again”, and the 50’s were seen as the period when it was last great. (Some religious pundits focusing on sexual morality and evolution might make one of the World Wars the line where it began to fall, but all will agree that the 50’s was the last great time in the nation, and after that, with the sexual revolution, removal of school prayer, legalization of abortion and ultimately, civil rights, it’s “gone to hell”).

    What Reagan did was to stoke the hope of them, as the more active version of the slogan goes, “taking back the country”. A late columnist who nailed the race issue 20 years ago was Carl Rowan, <iThe Coming Race War, and he pointed out when Reagan got in, they figured “their time in America had come again”.
    Of course, now, in comparison, we’ve gone even further from their ideal; especially with all the progress for the LGBT community, which was like the worst possible thhing that could be imagined for a religious conservative; and Obama the worst possible antithesis of Reagan as a leader, and so now, they might see Reagan as the “good old days”, but it’s true that he really did not accomplish anything they really wanted (other than presiding over the winning of the Cold War, which only caused the conservatives to have to scramble to find a new global archenemy, which the Muslims are fill over a decade later). Both morally and fiscally, the nation continued to “slide”, as they put it.
    But Reagan did put up a good talk. As Trump does now; only greatly ramped up, out of desperation from what they feel they’ve “lost” in the time since Reagan. (And I’m sure, the big news of him “getting saved” was to court those evangelicals who couldn;t see past his moral lapses).

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  7. Did we win the cold war or did the problems of central economic planning simply put an end to the Marxian stupidity? All governments that engage in centrally planned economies eventually fall, a no brainier except we find the young impervious to the lessons of history. Somehow democratic socialism is different, not. But to get back to the argument that some how every society had a golden age, we may wish to believe such a rationale but that is never the case. We love to show the hypocrisy of the evangelicals and yet it is not more that that of the progressive liberal. Perhaps we should examine our own motives a little more closely.

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  8. Your perspective on reactionary politics is very interesting. I think what may be more interesting is collectively observing the sociological groups of people which tend to have this sort of perspective, “Make America White Again” (assuming it is synonymous with “Make America Great Again”). Polk County, TN is made up of approximately ~16,773 people. The largest ethnic/racial group in Polk County is white, making up “merely” 96% of the population. Now, the next part makes this very interesting. The second ‘largest’ (making up only 1.6% of the population) ethnic group is Hispanic. With absolutely no support for my statement, I’m sure you can connect the dots and see the intersectionality between Donald Trump’s slogan and that of Rick Tyler. The median age in Polk County is 43, the median income for anyone 25 but <64 is ~$40,000. The majority of Polk County has "some high school" as their highest educational achievement (25.4% vs. 24.5% with "some college" and 22.4% with "no high school"). 74.8% of Polk County is composed of family households, larceny and rape are the largest criminal risks in Polk County, and the highest household expenditure is Tobacco (2nd highest as a tie between Utilities and Healthcare, then Food and 'other'). Education is ranked at 37% below the national average.

    My point is, when considering small town politics, we must view them as simply that. Small town politics. We cannot over think the mindset of the people of Polk County, including Rick Tyler. As far as being a nationalist threat, he is absolutely minuscule. Without any basis, and I realize what a fallacy I am creating here, I am making the firm assumption and judgement that most people who feel the way that Mr. Tyler feels are a reflection of the statistics I stated above. Cut and dry, American exceptionalism and federalism lives in small towns, in small minds, like Polk County, Tennessee.

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  9. Interesting article and unfortunate it’s even happening today. We seem to be going backwards. It’s great you used Hughes’ poem, I always loved that one. It shows an African American voice saying, “Well, it never was great for us.” To think we were moving toward a country where it could have been and people just seem to be reacting to what they think they are going to loose! It’s disgusting. But thank you again for writing this. And thank you for the like on my post. I look forward to reading more of your blog and following.

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