On the campaign trail in 2016, President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE coined his catchy slogan, “Make America Great Again,” one that he continues to use now that he occupies the White House. But he has never clearly defined what he thinks would make America great, or when he thinks it stopped being great.
With no clear explanation of what the phrase abbreviated as “MAGA” means, the door is open to all kinds of interpretations. The president’s supporters follow his lead in tweeting with the hashtag #MAGA to push their own agendas, and the red hat bearing the slogan, like the one that Trump wore as a candidate, still sells online and has even led to a court case over what it means.
Instead, voters need our leaders to stand up for an agenda that will truly make America great by uniting us as a country and creating opportunities for all of us to succeed.
My proposal is rooted in policies that emphasize “freedoms from,” rather than just traditional “freedoms to.” It is an agenda that directly addresses the injustices so many Americans still face, and the need to correct them. It is putting greater emphasis on freedoms such as “freedom from hunger,” rather than just well-established rights such as “freedom of speech.”
It is the addition of such rights that will enable us to truly “Make America Great Now.”
In the Bill of Rights , the focus of our Founding Fathers was on freedoms to take certain actions. This proposal to “Make America Great Now” adds to “freedoms from” by drawing upon President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights” and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Together, the Bill of Rights, FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights, and the U.N. declaration present five basic categories of rights that, if adopted, could make our country much stronger domestically and establish the United States as a true world leader — based not significantly on military force, but more upon moral strength. America could truly stand as a role model for the world in how we treat our citizens and respect others around the world.
The first basic category of rights applies principally to our domestic policy, while the remaining two are a mixture of domestic and foreign concerns. First, we need a truly fair criminal justice and judicial system when it comes to apprehension, trial and punishment.
Second, we need a fair social welfare system with regard to housing, clothing, work, compensation, health care, security and education.
Third, we need a system that protects against discrimination or abridgement, be it regarding race, religion, gender, marriage, sexuality, politics, speech and press, bearing arms or nationality.
Next we need freedom from mistreatment, whether from slavery or servitude, torture or violence.
And finally we need to have freedom of movement, for peaceful assembly, asylum, nationality, or retreating to home, property or privacy.
Embracing this agenda is a way for us to truly make America great. Our country doesn’t need politicians parroting an empty slogan that harkens us to a darker time for millions of Americans. The hope is that this proposal will be a call to action to bring change legislatively, in public opinion, and throughout our country, lifting up every American.
Neil Wollman is a senior fellow with the Bentley Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and has done research on political issues for many years. He is the previous co-director of the National Prevention Science Coalition and a former faculty member at Manchester University in Indiana.