Donald Trump and his followers clearly don't see the ugly parts of our nation's past as problematic The holiday season is a time for nostalgia. We watch It\u2019s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story, engage in time-honored traditions, and even sing songs about sleighs and sleigh bells. Honestly, when was the last time you rode in a sleigh? I\u2019ve eaten a roasted chestnut (purchased on the streets of Chicago, so I don\u2019t know if there was an open fire involved in the roasting process), but I haven\u2019t gone for a single sleigh ride in my whole life. Donald Trump\u2019s campaign slogan \u2014 \u201cMake America Great Again\u201d \u2014 plays on this idea of some imagined time in the past when things were better, simpler, than they are now. But The Donald isn\u2019t the only one who evokes this mythical past. On the other side of the aisle, Democrats often wax poetic about the strong middle class of the era that followed World War II, or about the social safety net President Franklin Delano Roosevelt put in place before that. And it\u2019s true: America did accomplish great things in the past. But I fundamentally disagree that our better days are behind us. This notion of a lost Norman Rockwell America is an illusion. It\u2019s easy to buy into this trope if you\u2019re an older white man, because perhaps those really were your good old days. The post-war years in which America had a \u201cstrong middle class\u201d were the days of a strong white middle class. If you\u2019re African American, looking back to the 1950s means looking back to the days of lynching, Jim Crow, and legalized discrimination. How can that inspire nostalgia? In the South before the Civil Rights movement, it was open season on African Americans, with white terrorists lynching whomever they chose with impunity. And to secure the white racist vote for his New Deal programs, FDR excluded farm workers and domestic workers from basic wage and work protections. Back then, those segments of the labor force were largely black. There were problems in the North too. Housing discrimination against blacks was federal policy \u2014 not just a simple, organic process of \u201cwhite flight.\u201d Policies like redlining systematically denied African Americans wealth, which still harms their families and communities today. Nor was life peachy for women in this time. This was the era that spurred the feminist Betty Friedan to write about \u201cthe problem that has no name.\u201d She torpedoed the presumption that all American women ought to rejoice that their roles as cooks, house cleaners, and baby machines were now made easier with modern conveniences. No doubt modern women are grateful they\u2019re no longer expected to greet their husbands with a warm meal, a cocktail, and a come-hither look when they come home from a long day of work. Trump\u2019s \u201cMake America Great Again\u201d sloganeering \u2014 combined with his anti-Muslim, anti-black, and anti-Mexican rhetoric \u2014 makes it apparent that he and his followers don\u2019t see the ugly parts of our nation\u2019s past as problematic. But it\u2019s wrong to whitewash history. Surely, America isn\u2019t perfect today. We haven\u2019t solved our problems with racism (Donald Trump is Exhibit A) and women still earn less than men. We\u2019ve also got the specters of mass shootings, terrorism, and the climate crisis to boot. Yet the answer to our troubles isn\u2019t returning to an imagined, better past. It\u2019s finding our way to a more perfect future. As Bill Clinton said two decades ago, \u201cThere is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.\u201d OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. OtherWords.org.