By this point, almost any aware person will tie MAGA to Donald Trump. MAGA is the acronym for Make America Great Again. The problem with that slogan is who defines what makes America (in particular, the United States of America) great. At this point, is it anything?

Two recent articles, The Hill‘s Do Americans hate each other enough to tear the country apart? and UnHerd‘s America is turning into revolutionary France Politicians are wilfully ignoring the omens, along with the whole January 6 debacle/insurrection/mess/riot, and Trump’s and (in particular) his ardent followers’ words would seem to indicate that the US is headed toward division.

A24’s new Civil War movie and general dystopian feel of the US (and even Europe) don’t help, either.

Regardless of who wins the US 2024 Presidential Election, I am an optimist. I do not believe that most Americans seek, desire, or would even participate in a Civil War. Let’s call what such a war would be these days, a rebellion. Of course, who writes the history book at the end is who gets to call it an insurrection, a rebellion, a revolution, a correction and so on.

What bothers me most is that there seems to be no one with a platform that is calling for some sane thinking.

While I’d love to blame the algorithms of social media, let us not forget the age-old newspaper mantra…”If it bleeds, it leads.”

While we did have some cultural optimism that was in tension with the newspaper mantra, we seem to have abandoned our optimism and are all full-throat antagonism.

While I strongly doubt we’ll have a civil war (and I will be praying that we don’t), we do have an existential crisis that is more than Donald Trump (sorry, Bill Maher). Donald Trump is the poster child for it. However, if one really compares language (rather than “sides”), we are in deep trouble.

So, let’s define “great”. So, do I want to return to the 80s-era Cold-War proxy wars? No, but we’re already there with Russia (again) and now China. Do I want to return to the Moral Majority era (granted, also around the same time)? No, which might come as a shock to many of you who see me (understandably) as a conservative Christian. There was a lot of generational faith damage as a result, and the inheritors of the Moral Majority (and, it seems, so of its first leaders) were not actually moral.

While I was not enamored of him, George H. W. Bush might be my choice at this time. Setting aside the “no new taxes” pledge that he surrendered to work with the opposing party, he had a vision that in our culture’s (at time) derision of it may actually be the reason we’re here in this time.

He saw, and called for, a kinder, gentler, nation. How that works in regard to policy, I don’t know. Yet, policy isn’t going to fix this nation’s malaise. Kinder and gentler, however, will.