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Make America Great (again?)

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When liberals say America is not great, they are accused of being unpatriotic. But the MAGA folks are saying it right on their hats and T-shirts. I think America is pretty great. But there are a few places where we are not doing so great on the world stage.

First on this list is education. A 2015 study placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science.

Next is healthcare. The Commonwealth Fund rates the U.S. health care system as the worst among developed nations. America is at or near the bottom across the board: access, administrative efficiency, equity and health care outcomes. To make matters worse, there is how much more America spends on health care relative to other nations.

These are big problems, complex problems with continued long-term negative consequences on America and the American people. But are these the priorities for the MAGA folks? Probably not..They're more concerned about immigrants stealing their jobs and which bathrooms people use.

For his part, Trump made a lot of (sometimes conflicting) promises during his campaign, but in his first address to congress he laid out six pillars of his MAGA agenda: Immigration, ISIS, Trade, Tax reform, Infrastructure, and Healthcare.

None of these include education. On education, he has given us Betsy Devos, a billionaire who is universally opposed by civil rights advocates and education groups. Devos and the policies she advanced in Michigan are credited with decimating that state's education quality. In the mean time, Trump has filled his administration with anti-science zealots and taken an anti-science, anti-education stance at every turn.

On healthcare, Trump promised an amazing healthcare system, with lower rates and great care, but it appears he has no idea how to actually do that. His first plan was a tax cut for the wealthy wrapped in a "healthcare" bill and upon that failing, all he can offer now is repealing ACA as part of his mission to erase the Obama legacy but with no new plan to replace it.

The third priority where I consider America to be not so great is far more controversial and that is our imperialism run amok, the "military industrial complex" what we're now perhaps calling the "deep state." This is even more challenging given this really comes down to monied interests but I think we can begin to take this down, one small bit at a time. We interfere way too much in other countries' business and it seldom is good for America in the long run - in some cases, this is directly responsible for creating the exact terrorist movements that MAGA folks are so concerned about. Draconian immigration bans don't really do anything for this problem and, when it comes to foreign policy, besides a lot of "America first" bluster, it's not clear where Trump really stands and it certainly seems to be the place he is least qualified - and that's saying something, given how unqualified he is at pretty much everything, except being a con man.

So when I say America could be greater, those are my priorities, education and healthcare first and being quite easily justified by empirical fact. My third priority, imperial overreach, is admittedly hard to quantify. But in what ways is America not great for the MAGA folks? And when was it great before? Do they even know?
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