When did America *stop* being "great?" (If you believe it to be the case)

Inspired by this thread, and I almost wanted to ask the question there, but given the wide range of opinions, I didn’t want to risk derailing the thread.

Basically, I have friends all across the political spectrum, but the one thing that I tend to ask the ones who lean “right” is, if they do subscribe to the “Make America Great Again” mantra, what was the turning point to where our country had its great fall?

I’ve heard a variety of answers, some based on political happenings - “the Lewinsky saga,” “Obama’s election”, etc. - and others based on judicial opinions or even social occurrences - “Roe v. Wade,” “Murphy Brown becoming a single mother (no joke)”, etc.

So, if you are of the mindset that America is no longer the country it once was, what was the sole moment where America fell from grace, or at the very least, what was the point when you looked up and realized that America had seen much better days?

I’d also be curious to see what others think that Trump supporters might posit as an answer.

And, for the record, I don’t believe America ever fell in esteem more than it’s risen, but if I had to guess a likely majority answer, I’d say the 2008 election.

(Mods, if this is too similar to the other thread, feel free to lock it.)

Nixon’s resignation. And, of course, what led up to it.

We ceased being “great” when we were lied into a war by the Bush Administration after they came to power via Florida’s fuckup. We continue to be “not great” as long as we fail to deliver Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. to an International War Crimes tribunal for trial. Trump’s very existence shows we have a long way to go before we can ever delude ourselves about our “greatness.”

I don’t have any particular opinion, but I’ll offer two common views from the left.

Some trace American’s evolution to a corporate culture to the World War I era. Back then, America had dozens of socialist mayors, the labor and leftist movements were strong (height of the Wobblies), and the population was against getting into the war. Then the Creel Commission, red scares, and Sedition and Espionage Act happened. After the war, all the good war propagandists went to the private sector to get busy transforming American culture, replacing thrift with hedonism and consumerism. Despite tremendous social progress in the next century, the “cult of the self” still remains, stronger than ever, as does the resistance to liberal solutions other countries adopted long ago, because socialism is evil. The Cold War was a continuation of this line of thinking, not the origin. I think Chris Hedges, for example, was a big proponent of that era being the turning point.

Other liberals point to the cultural backlash that happened in the '70s-'90s. This era saw the rise of religious fundamentalism in the '70s (sometimes called the fourth great awakening), the Reagan revolution and the destruction of unions in the '80s, and then the Clinton takeover of the Democrats, turning them into a third way neo-liberal party through the '90s to the present. That’s a popular view of younger, modern lefties, especially the ones who endlessly blog about how much they hate the Clintons in particular.

Shall we also deliver the leaders of today who continue Cheneys legacy?

Coincides with the Rise of the Hipster.

Sorry to hijack, but I feel an urge to stamp out ignorance whenever it raises its head:

Here’s your assignment: Make a list of the mistakes and misdeeds of Cheney’s team re Iraq. Make a similar list for “leaders … who continue Cheneys legacy.” Compare the lists and say something intelligent.

6:18 pm, April 19th, 1971

JFK’s assassination. That was the end of our collective innocence, and led up to the escalation of Vietnam (I don’t mean the assassination caused the escalation–I mean in a time frame–one preceded the other by a short time). Baby boomers came of age, protesting the war.

At the same time, more or less, came other revolutions–the pill was invented, ie, the sexual revolution, then the early 70s brought the women’s liberation movement, not to mention the civil rights movement of the 60s.

All of this happened at roughly the same time, within 10-15 years. In that time frame, we went from Beaver Cleaver to Archie Bunker. A lot of people simply couldn’t accept the change, hence America was no longer great (because “others” didn’t know their place and started taking over).

Up until Reagan we had a strong set of values about what it meant to be American: we were a free people, full of independence and ingenuity. We also had a real problem with racism, sexism, etc. The free and independent Americans basically exploited the hell out of everyone else. The period 1850–1980 was a long, slow process of recognizing that “American” didn’t just mean middle-/upper-class straight male WASP, but everyone in the country.

We’ve kept moving on the inclusiveness, which is good—I don’t want to go back. Somehow, though, the ugly backlash has gone mainstream. Meanwhile, a lot of the values we used to espouse have gone out the window. I don’t know why. The people espousing them the loudest are the least inclusive? We recognize that we stated the values but never really lived them? We’re just too divded as a people?

We were also gradually maturing as a country on the world stage. World War II brought us our prominence, but I think we failed to realize how much of our power was due to exploitable natural resources and lack of suffering in WWII compared to Europe and Asia. I think it was fine to coast on that for a little, but we sort of got lazy and started feeling entitled, and a lot of our military adventures post-1975 seem aimed at erasing the memory of Vietnam.

So I guess I’d have to say the 1980s are when we went from on-a-trajectory-of-awesomeness to more-flawed-than-not. It’s not that the past was better, it’s that we were slowly rectifying our mistakes, and now at least a large chunk of the country (left and right) is trying to justify them.

June 21, 1788.

When we “enshrined” the concept that all men are created equal in the eyes of God and the law, yet preserved the institution of slavery.

We may have been “great” financially, industrially, or militarily since then; politically and socially, that’s when we stopped being great.

A fairly valid argument could also be made for our treatment of Native Americans as a pest that could be moved, bullied, or exterminated at will.

I would have gone with February 10 1763 when the French capitulated to the British in the war for dominance in North America. But I must admit a certain bias.

In more modern times I would say some time during the Reagan years. A set date and reasons would go beyond the scope of a simple reply but the short version is that even with terrific things happening all around us, and examples of unity so available, the small divides between us as individuals started to grow into the chasms we see today.

We haven’t.

It hasn’t become great yet. If we believe America is all about equality and freedom, we won’t be great until women, dark skinned folks, the differently gendered, and the non-christians are equal and free. And they aren’t right now. We are on a trajectory towards greatness, and some people have recently decided to try to stop the process.

There are many things I love about my country, but this self-obsession isn’t one of them. I really wish we’d stop crowing about how great the U.S. is, or moaning about how great it isn’t.

Yep, ironically, Reagan symbolized it: “Mr Gorbachov, tear down this wall”.
That’s what started all the problems–those damn Rooskies actually did what we told 'em to do.

And suddenly America wasn’t needed so much on the world stage.

Being great was easy for 4 decades from 1945-1988. When you’re the leader, the good superpower protecting the free world from the evil superpower, you have a clear-cut purpose, and a lot to be proud of.

Trump’s simplistic definition of being great doesn’t work now ,because his concept is dependent on having an external enemy-- strong, and clearly-defined— which we can use to define ourselves, and ignore our internal problems.

Today life is a little more complicated than that.

Dec 5, 1492…

The OP answers the question; the answer is whatever you want it to be - just like ‘Yes we can’, it means what you want it to mean.

What does ‘great’ even mean … great at what, compared to what, why does it matter, etc …

America is great in promise. In execution, it’s a little uneven…

We stopped being great when we let the Barbary pirates push us around.