September 10th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

'Take Back America' but from whom?

Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

A lot of Americans want to “Take Back America” . . . for the most part, from other Americans.

Frankly, I’ve come to view the use – and abuse – of the phrase “Take Back America” as divisive, not unifying.

To be clear, both the left and the right are guilty of painting the other as the source of any and all ills in society. It seems that whichever feels itself out of power lays claim to the slogan “Take Back America.” At present, that would be mantra mostly of those who identify as being on the right, whether in terms of politics, culture or religion.

At www.takeamericaback.org you read: “Take America Back.org was founded out of a sense of frustration with the actions of the federal government. Actions which are resulting in this nation being run into the ground. The issues destroying this country are more than apparent to the American people.”

A news release for the book “2010: Take America Back: A Battle Plan” states: “We stand at the crossroads of ideals and policies: freedom versus socialism; sovereignty versus international subservience; economic liberty versus debt slavery; quality medical care versus government-sponsored euthanasia; and private property versus confiscatory taxation.”

Under the banner “Take Back America 2010,” a group called the American Reform Party declares: “Time to kick some ass and take back control of our Country and its government from the corrupt officials and Progressives. Both our government and its leaders are entirely out of control. They continually violate the laws of our constitution and ignore the will and desires of the people.”

Back in May, Mary Ann Akers wrote a piece in the Washington Post headlined “Question of the Day: Take back American from whom?”

Akers asked the question of Republican members of the House of Representatives. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., confessed: “Oh, that's an expression that's often used in campaigns. It's basically – take it away from liberals. Take government control away from liberals...Nothing conspiratorial about it."

Not everyone agrees.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Dr. Prudence L. Gourguechon questioned: “From what? From the brink? From strangers? From people I (the Tea Party-er) don't understand and can't identify with? From black people, from those who look down on me, from those whose syntax confuses me (who also may be black)? Fear and xenophobia echo loudly from "Take America back from..." Take America back from the Other, the different, the new, the alien. The non-Christian, non-white, container of everything I fear and loathe.”

In other times, “Take Back America” has been a rallying cry for the political left, particularly during the administration of President George W. Bush.

In fact, then-Senator Obama spoke in 2006 to a “Take Back America” conference using language you might hear today from his opponents. “It's a time where you can go to any town hall or street corner or coffee shop and hear people express the same anxiety about the future; hear them convey the same uncertainty about the direction we're headed as a country. . .These are Americans who still believe in an America where anything's possible – they just don't think their leaders do. These are Americans who still dream big dreams – they just sense their leaders have forgotten how,” he said.

Does this sound familiar?

Filed under: David Schechter • Opinion
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Sarah

    First of all, there is no reason to continue bringing up the irrelevant argument of race. The fact that we have a black president is no longer an issue. Playing the “race card” is taking the easy way out, an invalid argument. It all goes back to a personal philosophy issue: liberal vs. conservative, progressives vs. traditionalists. Our issue is that we have Americans fighting against other Americans about America.

    The real problem here is the lack of understanding about what “Take Back America” really is. Its intention is to restore our country to what it was originally intended to be; what our founding fathers intended for the country to be. Constitutional Conservatives are fighting against our country’s constitution, and the reason America is slipping away is because the decisions being made are so contrary to how the constitution originally anticipated them.

    Again, blaming the former president is taking the easy way out, another invalid argument. Take a look back at all of our past presidents. Not one of them has left the White House with a completely clean slate. There has not been a president who has cleaned up all the messes that have been made without making any of his own. Every president will make mistakes, and they always seem like the biggest problems America has seen, but don’t worry, worse problems will come in the future.

    Since many of President Obama’s policies have yet to be implemented, it’s hard to say how beneficial they really are, and who receives the most benefit. And once more, there is a misunderstanding of what “Take Back America” is actually supposed to be. America is not being given to a particular person or group, rather it is being restored to what it was originally proposed to be in the Constitution that we still follow today, over 200 years later. Why would we throw out a Constitution when it has clearly worked for our country thus far, through thick and thin?

    September 13, 2010 at 1:12 am |
  2. Locksley

    Simply put, right now, "Take back America" is code word for "take back the government from a black President, no matter that he was duly elected by a majority of the country; no matter that he is cleaning up the mess G. W. Bush left us in; no matter that his policies are benefiting even those who want to "take back America". And by the way, take back America and give it to whom????

    September 12, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  3. Smith in Oregon

    It took some 40 years AFTER the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor before many Archie Bunkers in the Republican party began actively buying Japanese Auto's, Electronics and Supplies. I recall hearing various bigoted comments against all Japanese people for an additional 10 years. Sometime during the Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton, bigotry towards the Japanese people nearly entirely died out.

    Today, bigoted cry's of 'Remember the USS Arizona' ring as hollow and unresponsive as 'Remember the Alamo' by the Texan bigots against the Hispanic people.

    Will it really take America 30 more years to quell the 9/11 bigotry towards all Arabic people? Faux's entertainment network is certainly active in casting all Arabic people as terrorist bent on 'Stealth Jihad' against the American people.

    Where are the News Agency's reaching out to find common ground with the Arabic people in everyday life? The Arabic people contribute far more to the world than simply the image of praying in mass in a Mosque and scenes of death and destruction. CNN's former Middle East correspondent really tried to flesh out a much larger picture of the Arabic people of many nations, sadly Christine is no longer with CNN. I hope CNN endeavorers to promote the many cultural contributions and achievements of the Arabic people.

    September 11, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  4. Maggie

    Mr. Schechter: Take back America is not rocket science unless you have been living on a remote island. Congress and Obama have been passing laws and regulations that the American public does NOT want.......that will eventually take away your rights, your money, your freedom. The point is that Congress has not been working for the people........haven't been listening for years. The point is that the money is Washington is OUR money. The point is that they work for us. Their egos are so inflated that they don't even care when people such as Pelosi say (regarding the Health care bill) WE WILL KNOW WHAT'S IN IT AFTER WE PASS IT. Are you telling me you are okay with this? Yes, we want to take our country back. YES.

    September 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm |