Making America Great Again (MAGA) as a political slogan comes about because the U.S. feels threatened in many ways. Economically the U.S. is losing her world number one position. In 1960, the U.S. GDP reached 40% share of the world GDP but in 2019 the U.S. GDP was only 24% of the world GDP and in 2021 it further dropped to 15.74%. Diplomatically or politically, the U.S. is losing her influence on the world stage. In Europe, the U.S. saw the expansion of EU with a strong tendency of acting independently. In Middle Asia, the U.S. felt the stress of war engagement resulting in her pulling out of Afghanistan. In Southeast Asia, the growing trade between ASEAN nations and China is influencing their position regarding the U.S. assertion of free navigation in South China Sea. Even a small country, Solomon Islands, has tilted for China's assistance instead of relying on Australia and the U.S. foe help. Even militarily, the U.S. is losing her supremacy she held since WW II. Most visibly is the modernization of China's army, navy and air force, adding two new carriers one with electromagnetic catapults to her refabricated Liaoling carrier. China now has more ships (total 355) than the U.S. navy. In addition, the U.S. fell behind in the space exploration. China has built a space station and landed on the dark side of the moon all by herself. China has developed supersonic missiles capable of delivering nuclear war head over 6000 miles in an hour or so.
It is a good thing for politicians to recognize the above situation and bring out election slogans like MAGA to awaken citizens from pacifying attitude. Trump benefitted from the creation of MAGA and won his 2016 presidential election, but he focused on punishing others than improving ourselves. Biden won his 2020 presidential election and essentially continued the MAGA notion using a different set of narratives but hyped the competitive spirit against China and Russia. However, slogans and words are far from solutions and actions in dealing with the national issues. Observing from the Trump Administration to Biden's term, it is clear that Biden has not only inherited the legacy anti-China strategy but actually doubled down in anti-China policies and tactics. Biden seems to believe that stopping China's rise is more important than building U.S. strong. The Administration and Congress spend more energy on legislation than do serious studies to come up with in-depth plans for making the U.S. strong again. Since believing that the U.S. alone cannot stop Russia and China to rise, the U.S. must rely on her allies. Much energy is spent on persuading her allies to form alliances for targeting Russia and China. NATO was directed to Russia, AUKUS (Australia, UK and US), QUAD (Australia, India, Japan and US) and Indo-Pacific Strategy (countering APEC) are clearly directed at China. Pushing NATO to Asia seems to be on Biden's playbook.
While the U.S. is busy in foreign policies, in Europe directing the Russia-Ukraine war with the goal of collapsing Russia through economic sanctions and in Indo-Pacific plotting alliances against China hoping to cut China off from a U.S. dominated economic chain such as chip supply, we see the U.S. domestic politics boiling and economy suffering. 'Storming the capitol' (Jan. 6, 2021 event) continued to brew in Congress and FBI raided Trump's private mansion searching for classified documents. Though facing tax evasion charges and federal investigation, Trump is rigorously involved in the mid-term election campaign to build his power base for a possible 2024 come-back. On the other hand, with inflation running high, Biden shows little positive progress on infrastructure building and unification of the nation. The mid-term election does not look good for democrats and the outlook for 2024 is dim for Biden. Biden's slippage in speeches and manners are no longer just laughing matter, the recent misquote of North Korea as U.S. ally by Harris really raised some political commentators' concern - do we have the right people on the helm when Putin is threatening to use nuclear weapon in defending Russia territories. Raising interest rate seems to be the only solution to lure US dollars back to Wall Street further sharpening the U.S. wealth gap problem.
What we really should ponder is “what does MAGA really mean?” in view of the current situation the U.S. is in. Do our politicians really understand how to make U.S great again? Every American citizen should ask himself do I really understand MAGA and what do I want my government to do? It is obvious that things are going worse domestically and the U.S. foreign relations are getting bad especially with China. Is my government doing the right things to make America great again? Can American citizens elect the right leaders to make America great Again? Yes, they can if they ask the following questions and understand the honest answers:
1.The U.S. promotes democracy, does it mean the U.S. democratic system? Democracy is a means for citizens to select government servants and make decisions. Not every country has the same composition of race, culture, religion, language etc. It is logical to say that no one system fits all.
2.Is the U.S. democracy perfect without flaws? No, the U.S. cannot claim a perfect political sytem since there are plenty of political problems, even in the ballotting procedure as seen in the 2020 presidential election.
3.Must the U.S. export her democratic system? No, in addition to the answers of the above two questions, history has shown us that such a policy does not have a high rate of success nor an assured benefit to the U.S. without a significant political, economic and military investment.
4.The U.S. promotes rules-based world order, whose rules? The U.S. was indeed the world leader setting rules for world order, but the U.S. rarely accepted rules made by anyone else or international organization not dominated by the U.S. The U.S. sometimes even denied rules that had been originated by her but no longer finding them beneficial.
5.Does the U.S. political and economic system always yield great results demonstrating high efficacy? No, the continuous reduction of the U.S. economy as a percentage of world economy is a clear indicator that the overall efficacy of the U.S. government is below many other nations. The U.S. does spend far more in military expenditure than the other leading countries, however, such expenditure does not yield direct benefits to American citizens except to her military industrial complex when wars were initiated.
6.The U.S. values alliance strategy holding many strategic or military allies, are they beneficial to the U.S.? Yes, when the relations are sort of protector-protected nature with protected paying a large portion of the military expense, for example, Germany, Japanm South Korea and the like. No, for many other alliance relations such as NATO, AUKUS etc., the benefits are questionable. (Trump questioned the value of NATO to U.S. but Biden valued NATO in his Anti-China and Indo-Pacific strategy.)
7.Why as a founder of UN, the U.S. is pulling out of some UN organizations and defying some UN laws, for example WTO rules? The U.S. becomes more alienated with UN laws because she refuses to follow the democratically established rules which she deems unfavorable to her. This attitude is largely responsible for her falling standing on the world stage.
8.Is there any other country's politico-economic system working better than the U.S. system? Yes, there are many, however, from a large country's standpoint, the Chinese Communist Party system in China seems to be the only system that fare much better than the U.S. China maintained many decades of double digit economic growth, lifted nearly one billion people out of poverty resulting in a middle class population greater than the whole U.S. population and made China the manufacturer of the world and number one trading nation with over 130 nations. What is most impressive is that China has achieved all that without any U.S. assistance (sanctions instead).
9.The U.S. won the Cold War against the Soviet Union, is this an evidence for U.S. successful national strategy? No, Americans should carefully reflect on this question. The strategy of allying with China and inviting China to the West economy had made a sharp contrast with the pure state controlled economy in the Soviet Union which eventually collapsed. The CCP success is still progressing despite of the U.S. led interference with Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang human rights accusation.
The above questions with their answers seem to clearly suggest that MAGA hinges on focusing on U.S. domestic issues and self-development. The fact that China has risen through self-development not by invading others or taking advantages of allies is a living proof. China has few allies in the world except when they are provoked (Russia moving closer to China is caused by U.S. and NATO provocation).