The slogan making America great again made me think there was a time in the past when it was great unlike the year when the slogan was being bandied about which was 2016. When was that I wondered?
I tried to figure out what year or group of years were the time we were great.
I wondered if others did the same thing. Or was it just a meaningless slogan standing for the idea that what you see in 2016 is not good and it’ll be drastically changed if you elect me. If the latter that too presented difficulties trying to figure out what was so bad in 2016.
I decided to try to tackle the former, the literal meaning of the words. When was America great?
The first challenge I recognized was to decide whether the slogan applied to all Americans or just some.
For instance back in the early part of the 20th century we had the industrialists who did quite well while the working stiffs suffered mightily with no protections. It was a great time for the railway titan not the spike driver; for the mine owner not the miner; for the factory owner not the worker; for the employer of children not the ten year old child or her family; for the stock yard owner not the meat cuttter.
Then I had to consider whether it applied to all Americans no matter what race. We talk about the greatest generation – the time during WWII when it seemed all America rose up as one to fight off the Axis powers. It certainly was not great if you were a Japanese American from 1941 to 1945; or if you were a Native American involved in the Trail of Tears forced relocation from 1831 to 1877; or if a black American during slavery or Jim Crow days from before 1788 to 1964 when the Civil Rights legislation passed; or a woman prior to 1920 when she got the right to vote or up to 1972 when Title IX passed.
You see my dilemma. It is very hard to find a time period when America was great for all Americans or even one race or ethnic group over another. Although the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant men could perhaps be said to have had it great most of the time but that would also be the same in 2016 and the person exposing that idea was one of the beneficiaries of that group.
I was caught in this conundrum going around and around consuming many anxious hours unravelling the mystery of what time period the proponent of the idea of America having been great was making reference to.
Eureka! It came to me.
It is 1860 to 1861. It was the time of the Pony Express. Its best record for carrying the mail was 7 days and 17 hours to deliver mail from Nebraska/Missouri to Sacramento, California although it usually took ten days.
We are going back to those days of greatness with our postal service as we emulate those golden years.