General Kelly, President Trump's Chief of Staff, gave a speech in response to the controversy about the president calling the families of fallen service members.
In the course of this speech, he give this vision of the lost golden age:
And they [members of the military] volunteer to protect our country when there's nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required.
You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That's obviously not the case anymore, as we see from recent cases. Life, the dignity of life was sacred. That's gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well. Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer.
President Trump's slogan is "Make America Great Again." It has never been clear when they thought America was great, nor why they do not think America is great now. This speech gives a clue.
It is also mostly wrong.
Volunteering is up. Millennials have higher levels of community service than prior generations.
Feminism has produced a greater level of equal honor for women than ever before.
The dignity of soldiers' lives, the very subject of Gen. Kelly's lament, is more honored than it was a generation ago.
The United States is the most religious industrialized country.
Gold Star families were central to one of the conventions last summer, even if not treated with equal respect at the other one.
America is great now, and improving in many ways. The MAGA lament is really nostalgia for a time when things were worse.