Holder: America Was Never Great

March 28, 2019

Former attorney general Eric Holder said that America has never been "great," during a Wednesday night appearance on MSNBC's The Beat.

Holder's comment came in response to a question from host Ari Melber about how it was possible to call America a "leader as a democracy" during the 1800s when women and African-Americans could not vote.

"When I hear these things about 'Let's make America great again,' I think to myself: 'Exactly when did you think America was great?'" Holder said, in reference to the President Donald Trump's slogan, which he used frequently at rallies and on merchandising during the 2016 presidential election.

Holder then pointed to instances in the United State's past when he said America was not "great."

"It certainly wasn't when people were enslaved," he said. "It certainly wasn't when women didn't have the right to vote. It certainly wasn't when the LGBT community was denied the rights to which it was entitled."

"Does that phrase echo as discrimination in your ears?" Melber asked.

"It takes us back to, I think, an American past that never really in fact existed with this notion of greatness," Holder said. "America has done superb things, has done great things, and it has been a leader in a whole range of things, but we are always a work in progress."

Holder then said that he believes the Make America Great Again slogan does not fit his own vision of the meaning of the United States.

"Looking back, Make America Great Again is inconsistent with who we are as Americans at our best: when we look at the uncertain future, embrace it, and make it our own," Holder said.

Since winning the 2016 election, Trump has continued to use the Make America Great Again slogan, but has also introduced a Keep America Great slogan into his speeches and merchandising.