Not Your Father’s America

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Just whose country is this? 

By J. Jeff Toler for Shenandoah Christian Alliance

  • “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” —Matthew 4:9

Tyranny has been tried many times down through the ages, and not unlike this present age, it’s often ushered in by the false, yet alluring promise of hope and change—or some iteration of it. A call for unity is also very popular. But often as not, slogans are misleading, and offer scant cover for false hope, loose change, and dissension.

If you’re wondering if you’re the only one that sees the USA is on the road to tyranny—a kind not seen here before—you’re not. We have slipped down the slope. For perspective, you might look at it all from an historical point of view, and find that we’ve come a long way from the presidential campaign slogans in the last 100 years. Many are notable, if for no other reason, often because of their irony:

“He has kept us out of war.” Woodrow Wilson (1916) Then, the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, when Congress approved a resolution to declare war on Germany. 

“A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” Herbert Hoover (1928) A commonly cited version of a claim from a Republican Party flier on behalf of his presidential campaign.

“We are turning the corner” Herbert Hoover (1932) Used by his campaign in the depths of the Great Depression.

“Happy days are here again” Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932) They made it into a popular song, but it would be more than a decade before happy days would return.

“The buck stops here” Harry Truman (1948) Makes you wonder if he was a poker player.

“I like Ike” Dwight D. Eisenhower (1952) Love him or like him, he was a very popular war hero.

“I still like Ike” Dwight D. Eisenhower (1956) Well, if it worked once… 

“We Can Do Better” John F. Kennedy (1960) Better than Ike? It’s unfortunate he died so young.

“In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right” Barry Goldwater (1964) Presidential campaign slogan.

“In Your Guts, You Know He’s Nuts” Lyndon B. Johnson (1964) A snarky, but very funny answer to Goldwater.

Here is a good example of why slogans can produce the wrong result:

“When Ransom E. Olds was one of America’s first automakers all the way back in 1897, he couldn’t have known that 90 years into the future the Oldsmobile brand would make an ill-fated attempt to distance itself from the geriatric associations of the Olds surname. [In 1987], Oldsmobile was determined to shake the image that it built boring cars for sleepy seniors. The end result was the indelible ‘This Is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile’ catchphrase, birthed from one of the strangest publicity campaigns to ever emanate from Detroit.” 

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Sadly for disappointed dads, Oldsmobile died and was laid to rest in 2004. If we’re looking for analogies, Oldsmobile and America may actually have something in common: 

This was a case of a well-earned reputation for quality and performance for generations, only to fall victim to foreign imports, wrong messaging, sloppy production, and an ungrateful, unappreciative younger generation.

Likewise, America was riding high for the better part of four decades. But the victories of war largely made possible by the greatest manufacturing story ever seen could only last so long. With no more winnable wars to bolster it, US manufacturing gradually gave way to the “service economy.” Making matters worse, Washington regulated our free market into out-of-control inflation. Too late, Americans realized—those of us paying any attention—the boondoggle of “The Great Society” would be our assured destruction. The nation settled into an increasingly cynical mood. Two-income households became mandatory, Liberal philosophy devolved into leftist ideology as Federalism morphed into the centralized state. The “greatest nation on earth” was on a glide path.

“A kinder, gentler nation” George H. W. Bush (1988) This one just couldn’t survive the opposition’s comeback.. 

“It’s the economy, stupid.” Bill Clinton (1992) So much for kind and gentle.

“Change We Can Believe In.” Barack Obama (2008) His change has badly broken America…

…because his bureaucratic regime—ushered in racial division, lawfare—and increasing social discord, paved the way for an old-fashioned, flag-waving, economy-fixing populist. The kind of a populist who would be blunt, rough-edged, but a loud spokesman for the “huge” throngs of the disenchanted, the disillusioned, and the disenfranchised.

“Make America Great Again”
 Donald Trump (2016) Arguably, this is one of the best campaign slogans in modern history. Why? Because it hooked the imagination of the very people the left hates: working people, business owners, (and employers) functional families, and intact households, People were beginning to see past the guile and duplicity of the Washington “swamp.” And, there was something added to the mix: the militant largess of international corporatism. What did they offer us instead?…

“Forward Together” Hillary Clinton (2016) Hers wasn’t even making a serious claim. If by forward meant keep taking us in the same direction, we needed to turn around.

Recorded history, as I like to point out, is something we can only hope will actually be a record of the truth. Will it reflect what many, if not most, can actually see with their own eyes? As they say, only time will tell. Because the truth is in short supply, and slogans—or tropes as they are now called—are simply no substitute for reality. As Launcelot said, “but in end, the truth will out.” (“The Merchant of Venice” Act 2: Scene 2, by Wm. Shakespeare) Could this be a campaign slogan?

In many ways, this election cycle is emblematic of the end of an era. But can we predict the next era? The baby-boomers who inherited a colossus from the greatest generation— who actually did make America the greatest on earth, and a true superpower—are now beginning to fade away. A narrowing cohort still remains to offer the experience and expertise, and more importantly, to honestly curate, promote, and defend the American legacy of liberty. Why do I get the feeling they’re not all that excited about the task?

Why would Satan think Jesus would be tempted to worship him for the kingdoms of the earth? Would it be because Jesus was interested in kingdoms? To understand this, read all the parables in Matthew and what He says about the Kingdom of Heaven. 

The kingdoms of the earth are important to him. Especially in how they may point to the Kingdom to come. None in the temporal world could compare, but while we are here, we must not lose sight of the fact that kingdoms and governments are very important indeed. We shouldn’t doubt that our government is a blessing from God. Someone will rule here, someone no different than any other down through the ages: the one God chooses, and the one we deserve.

  • “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the LORD their God be with them.” —Chronicles 36:6
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Shenandoah Christian Alliance
Shenandoah Christian Alliance is a Christian organization devoted to the promotion and education of biblical truths, faith, and spiritual equipping. We believe in the sanctity of marriage as defined in God’s revealed word. We oppose the practice of abortion, and respectfully object to its funding and facilitation as currently promoted by our elected leaders. We understand homosexuality to be something that God—whom we worship and honor—does not approve among his creation. Our faith in God as revealed in scripture is not something we are ashamed of, or for which we must apologize.