By Drew Berquist
Following perhaps the most memorable primary season in recent history, if not ever, the American people are down to their final two choices for President in the coming general election. Regardless of who you believe will perform better as President, the slogan of “Make America Great Again” is what we want to address today, or “America First” as I call it.
America has always prided itself on being a melting pot of cultures, races and religions, as it should, but in the past people aspired to be Americans first…
Many in America are stuck viewing our country through a nostalgic lens and frequently comment on how things were once better, admittedly I fall in this camp. Still, several others defend the fact that America needs to adapt and be more inclusive as we grow as a nation. Whether embracing and welcoming all races, lifestyles or religions, the discussions have grown substantially and while these issues should bring said people together in their communities, the result has subsequently been a dividing force across the country. I am not going to tackle that issue in whole, because it doesn’t matter what I think on it, nor is it truly an issue of national security in its truest sense. I will, however, discuss how this plays into our ever changing national identity and the concept of making America great again.
You see because the difference in America forty years ago is not because of the aforementioned groups and their actions. The changes have occurred because of self inflicted wounds and feeling ashamed of our status as the global hegemon that our ancestors fought so hard to achieve. Our apologetic and weakening spirit is compounded by the fact that these aforementioned groups were suppressed for so long in America, and around the world.
Immigrants that once came to America to live out their American dream and proudly stated the oath to America, now are encouraged to align with whatever values suit them best. In fact, President Obama removed language that stated new immigrants will defend the constitution and the United States against all enemies, furthering our apologetic and accepting stance. America has always prided itself on being a melting pot of cultures, races and religions, as it should, but in the past people aspired to be Americans first. Fast forward to current time and now individuals conveniently adapt to the freedoms that our country offers without the patriotism and sense of connection. We offer a sense of belonging, to whatever they want, and more or less market the fact that they do not need to rally behind the flag, nor understand why they now are afforded freedom.
…now individuals conveniently adapt to the freedoms that our country offers without the patriotism and sense of connection…
This same apologetic spirit comes out in our defense policy and willingness to perform the role we earned and are expected to play out as the world’s superpower. Part of the reason people wanted to come to America so desperately was our compassion and willingness to help out those in need. America never allowed countries or even small components within society to be bullied. Was it our job? Technically no, but as we did it more and more, because we had the resources and the willingness to help, we took on that role. Sorry to use a quote from a superhero film, but with great power comes great responsibility. The burden we have as a nation is significant and we will always be second guessed, but that doesn’t mean we can buckle when others criticize us for interfering and trying to make the world a better place. Are there fights we should stay out and sometimes don’t? Of course, and we have frequently lost our way on how to fight some of these battles as well, but the fact remains that we are needed to help stabilize peace on a global scale.
So I say making America great again is done by making America first again. This theme was taken on as well by Donald Trump’s campaign, and while this article is not an endorsement of Mr. Trump, it certainly is of the sentiment. No longer should we quarrel about gay rights, race, religion or other non-state issues. Regardless of how one feels spiritually or morally about any growing culture within America, we would be far better off if people saw themselves as Americans first and foremost, vice identifying as something else and that goes for both sides. We should be unapologetic about our rise to greatness and reinforce the American dream on a daily basis to both our citizens and those who want to become American citizens. This includes, however, embracing those who we deem to be different so long as they bleed red, white and blue. Rallying people around the flag is a monstrous task, though it should not be in America. I frequently have commented on Afghanistan and how despite all of our efforts and money spent in the war torn country, the issue that will always prevent it from being a stable nation is their tribal mindset and unwillingness to see themselves as Afghans first. Sadly, we are on that same track, we just don’t want to admit it. Whether Republicans vs. Democrats, Christians vs. non-Christians, gays vs. straights, blacks vs. whites or any other internal struggle, the fact remains that we continue to drive wedges into our communities at an alarming rate and taking the focus off of national pride and thus national security. It should not take a catastrophic event like 9/11 to rally the nation, but sadly we have proven it does.
We will sooner be back to the days of telling kids to go play and come home when the street lights come on, witness people crying out of pride as they state their oath to defend the U.S constitution, hear sweet children’s voices state the pledge of allegiance each morning at school and reduce violence in the homeland when we start being America again, when people see themselves as Americans first and foremost. It’s a simplistic concept, but its real and it matters. The world needs us to be tough. They need us to act as the global superpower, and our children do as well. Otherwise, I fear the America they will inherit decades from now will be in an irreversible state that will end in failure.
Drew Berquist is the founder and a Senior Contributor for OpsLens. Drew served as a counterterrorism officer for the United States Intelligence Community, where he performed more than thirty deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to conduct intelligence operations. Drew has commented on national security matters on Lou Dobbs, Dennis Miller and a number of other shows throughout the country. Follow Drew and his staff of contributors on Twitter at @OpsLens