Can We Make America Great Again Together?

 

I believe we really can make America great again. And we can decisively begin in just a few days, if all of us — both Republican and Democrat — commit to it wholeheartedly by putting country before party, listening to our deepest conscience, and reclaiming the values that have eroded in recent years. Specifically, we can:

· Return to a time in America when the message of the Statue of Liberty meant something; return to the belief in abundance over scarcity that enabled us to welcome immigrants instead of scapegoating them, walling them out, or calling them rapists, terrorists, or criminals; we can return to a time when we would not seize frightened children and cage them without remorse in defiance of international human rights standards.

· Reassert our fundamental American values of freedom of press, journalistic integrity, and scientific fact instead of labeling inconvenient truths as “fake news” or choosing fear and anti-intellectualism over truth. And we can remember that Freedom of Speech does not endow us with permission to utter any mean-spirited, poorly-formed thought that happens to come to mind. It bears a responsibility of reasoned contemplation.

· Recall that our nation was founded on a premise of religious freedom instead of the vilification of different faithful paths; and those of us who do embrace religion can do a better job of translating the universal spiritual principles of love, compassion, and acceptance into our everyday lives and politics – instead of allowing religion to be distorted by angry fundamentalism and cruelty.

· Restore the American middle class by meaningfully addressing the structural constraints that keep low-income and working class families from economic mobility; and instead of trying to revive old or toxic industries, we can remain at the cutting edge of free enterprise. We can re-energize the spirit of honest business ownership instead of celebrating serial scam artists and masters of bankruptcy, tax evasion, and nepotism.

· Re-tap the great traditions of the civil rights movement, to continue the long-term healing process necessitated by the institutions of slavery and racism; Replaying the words of Abraham Lincoln – a President heroicized by both Republicans and Democrats — we can collectively, forcefully, and explicitly reject racism as anti-American. We can restore a time when armed, white supremacist militias had been driven away from public places and were not threatening to hold mock trials of kidnapped governors or turn peaceful demonstrations into outright Civil War.

· Reassert the values of the suffragette, farm worker, and gay rights movements, restoring past victories for “liberty and justice for all” that have been undermined– and we can even make the qualitative leaps forward that bring us closer to the realization of those principles.

· Resume a global leadership role where we honor our allies and hard-fought victories instead of cynically — and irrationally — aligning with our most despotic adversaries or abrogating our own signed treaties that are intended to keep peace in the world, support economic cooperation, or slow climate change.·

Restore a state of honor to our soldiers, both fallen and living, and stand up to anyone who calls them “losers” or “suckers,” or who forbids their own children from military service; we can once again remember that our soldiers have made ultimate sacrifices for the cause of freedom and democracy abroad, not despotism and voter suppression at home.

· Re-channel the same powerful, collective commitment that put people on the moon to systematically eliminate this pandemic and jumpstart an inclusive – and yes, green — economy.· Rebuild a culture where our elected officials seek to embody empathy, strength, kindness, decency, and honesty. And we can put behind us the age where leaders abdicate responsibility or demonstrate cruelty, narcissism, selfishness, dishonesty, childish name calling, and unremitting criminality.

All of this sounds profoundly different from the country we live in now. But it is a greatness that we can return to very quickly. We know this, because much of it was already true four years ago.We must simply remember that being an American is not merely a privilege that is bequest upon us; it is a responsibility that every generation must understand, embody, and take responsibility for. And in this election, at least, that leads to only one logical and moral decision.

In short, I am not going to suggest that anyone take off their MAGA hat, because we do indeed need to make America great again. You can wear it – without any sense of irony – as you head to the polls to vote for Joe Biden.

Elwood Hopkins

Elwood Hopkins is Founder and Managing Director of Emerging Markets, Inc. a consulting firm that has worked with major financial institutions and supermarket operators to profitably expand their retail operations into low-income neighborhoods nationwide. Clients have included Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Capital One, HSBC, Sun Trust, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, and US Bank as well as Supervalu, Kroger, Superior Markets, and Unified Grocers. He is the former Executive Director of Los Angeles Urban Funders, a consortium of 21 foundations and corporations investing in neighborhoods impacted by the 1992 Civil Unrest, and he was a Trustee of the Los Angeles Reinvestment Committee. He has helped to form or advise more than a dozen funder collaboratives in cities nationwide, and is the author of Collaborative Philanthropies (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001). Elwood remains a Senior Advisor to the USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy where he has directed multi-year inquiries, such as “Prioritizing Place,” and “Drawing on Detroit,” among others. He has also been enlisted by the Kresge Foundation to facilitate its national partnership on economic inclusion, called the Shared Prosperity Partnership, with the Aspen Institute, Brookings Institution, Living Cities, and the Urban Institute. Previously, he was a Research Scientist at the New York University Urban Research Center with visiting appointments at universities and research centers in Bangkok, Jakarta, Tokyo, Beijing, Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, and Mexico City. He has advised the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Center for Human Settlements (HABITAT), Organization of American States, the German Marshal Fund, and the World Bank. He holds a BA from Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude, and an MA in Urban Planning from the UCLA School of Public Affairs, where he was valedictorian and now serves as a Senior Fellow. He is currently studying in the Real Estate Investment Programme at the Said School of Business at Oxford University.

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