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President Donald Trump has made it clear. If you criticize what he has done, you don't belong in his America. "Go back where you came from!" he tweeted. And when he mentioned one of the four congresswomen and what he described as her hatred for America, his enthralled audience chanted, "Send her back!"

Send Us Bac

He and his North Carolina audience are right. We who are his critics, and that's perhaps half the population, or more, don't want to be in his America. We want the America that we've gradually shaped over the past 75 years, an America that was erasing barriers that denied full rights to all Americans. Send Us Back to that America.

Before he was elected president in 2016, this nation had made great strides in many directions. We were developing better relations with once-hostile nations. We had achieved international cooperation toward a better natural environment. At home, equality under the law for women and minorities had been attained after a long struggle with those whose attitude seems similar to those of the president. And we welcomed to America those seeking asylum from brutal governments in dangerous countries.

Send Us Back to the good old days when our government actively fought for progress in improving the environment, advancing civil rights, protecting women, and diplomatically resolving international issues. Yes, Send Us Back.

But that American state of mind has been reversed by Trump. In less than three years in the White House he has undone what it took three quarters of a century to accomplish. Send Us Back to the good old days when our government actively fought for progress in improving the environment, advancing civil rights, protecting women, and diplomatically resolving international issues. Yes, Send Us Back.

Send Us Back a decade, to a time when we were actively combating the threat to our environment. One by one, he is dismantling regulations designed to protect the environment. Clean water is now threatened by this administration. Healthful air is pared back by Trump's support for the use of coal in power plants and by his lessening of toxic metal emissions. His withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement makes it more difficult for some nations to adhere to the standards the pact sets. Fuel efficiency rules for autos, beneficial both in the pocketbook of working class Americans and in cleaning Southern California's once smoggy air, are endangered by Trump's desire to roll those regulations back.

Send Us Back to a period in which civil and human rights were a prime concern of our federal government. Under Trump, they have suffered, too. A nation that finally accepted individuals based on their character rather than their religious or ethnic background has run aground on Trump's anti-Muslim travel ban and an increasing willingness on the part of the courts to allow "religious freedom" to be an excuse for discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

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Send Us Back to an era when we were still making progress in the rights of women. The Obama era began with a fair pay act for women, but with Trump women's rights have suffered. The conscious appointment of Supreme Court justices and lower federal judges based on the litmus test that they will oppose abortion - and maybe lead to the overturning of Roe v Wade - is a hallmark of this presidency. Trump's reviling of "the four congresswomen" whom he would like to "go back where you came from" shows clearly that this is the same Trump who expressed a feeling of contempt for all women in scattered statements over several decades.

Send Us Back to a time of friendlier relations with Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and our European allies. In foreign affairs, we have returned to Cold War brinkmanship, threatening "total destruction" of any one of a number of nations. Here is a president who relies on the military, not diplomacy. North Korea's Kim may be a funny man and a good guy to Trump, but Kim is told in no uncertain terms that fire and fury await his country if necessary. And, while earlier administrations used sanctions, nearly always sparingly, Trump piles them on with glee. Iran, North Korea and Venezuela have been singled out especially for draconian financial sanctions that have severely harmed their economies. Moreover, those sanctions also fall on nations doing normal business covered by the sanctions.

Send Us Back to that brief moment, not so long ago, when Americans believed that we were on the verge of guaranteed health care for all. Obama's Affordable Care Act pointed the way, regardless of its limitations. But the Trump/Republican attack was successful because his party controlled both houses of congress. What looked so good when it was passed is now in danger of total elimination.

Yes, President Trump, we are eager to go back where this nation came from. Send Us Back... by losing the election in 2020 to a progressive who will take us back to a then great America.


Ralph E. Shaffer

Ralph E. Shaffer is professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly Pomona.