This article originally appeared as a letter to the editor in Prescott's newspaper, The Daily Courier.
Donald Trump’s statement that the late 1940s and ‘50s were a great era for America has come under unfair criticism from Democrats. I write in defense of this past era, not because I believe in a perfect past, but because I realize that much that was good about America has been lost. While I can understand why Mr. Trump’s rhetoric would worry people who think only about the uglier aspects of our nation’s history, it seems quite ridiculous to assume that every social change was a move in the right direction. I’d like to point out three specific ways in which our country has been backsliding over the years.
I'll begin with what Mr. Trump has said is “a big issue, a horrible issue, and a very important one. It's called law and order. We want law and order.” According to the FBI, murder rates are now higher than in the mid 1950s, and rape is nearly three times more common than in 1960, the earliest year in the dataset. Robbery has risen 70%, and burglary is up by 260%. The inner cities, where Democrats have ruled for the last half century, are suffering the worst.
The second issue concerns employment. In 1950, 86% of men aged 16 and older were working. Now the figure is barely 69%. The fraction of men not working has more than doubled. Industrial workers have suffered the most, with mining and manufacturing jobs being outsourced. As the ability of men, especially young high school graduates, to support a family has declined, so have marriage rates. In 1960, 72% of American adults were married; that figure has now shrunk to 50%.
Hillary Clinton believes in abandoning blue-collar workers and instead focusing on high-tech and service sector jobs. She boasts of putting coal miners out of business. But America can do better than building an economy that only values the most skilled laborers. When Benjamin Franklin wrote to Europeans considering immigration to America, he admitted “there are very few [in America] that in Europe would be called rich,” and instead emphasized America’s favorable conditions for the working poor. Unfortunately, in recent decades these conditions have largely disappeared. Mr. Trump’s opponents have criticized him for getting so much support from voters without a college degree, but perhaps they neglect to consider that he may be the only candidate who cares about these people’s future?
The third issue I will address is abortion. In the 1950s, this abhorrent practice was illegal in all 48 states. Now, it is legal nationwide, and many of the largest abortion providers are funded by the government. Quite frankly, not much can be said in support of a society that abandons one fourth of its children to such an awful fate. It can hardly be called progress when a nation decides that someone whose life once had legal protection now has none. Has there ever been a country that came to regret granting basic human rights to too many of its inhabitants?
It isn’t without reason that Mr. Trump has promised to make America great again. “Every day I wake up determined to deliver for the people I have met all across this nation that have been ignored, neglected and abandoned,” says Trump. “These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice.”
It’s time for their voice to be heard.