When people speak of making America great again they're speaking towards the 50's (after the war). Indeed America boomed mightily here's why. During the war Europe's factories were devastated. Fighting forces targeted car plants that could manufacture tanks, planes and vehicles which could be used against them. Europe's producers of steel also suffered from bombings. So did the textile and food factories.
I would think it shouldn't be hard to understand why we did so well after the war. The United States escaped all the damages to it's factories that Europe suffered. Europe needed everything to rebuild. Factories from the U.S. were humming along at full steam hiring and producing untold amounts of textiles, steel and whatever else Europe could get it's hands on. We were the only game in town.
Europe purchased these by the United States granting credit. Whether all of it was paid back is not the issue. Every company in America was getting paid to produce these supplies therefore hired huge numbers of workers to produce them.
Herein lies a three fold problem. (1) As Europe rebuilt their factories they bought the latest equipment available at the time. (2) Since our factories weren't destroyed they were still operating with equipment from the 30's and 40's. (3) Thus as more and more of Europe's factories came online they needed less and less of our stuff.
Which brings us to situation we find ourselves in today. Yes we still are a major player, but it never will it be like it was in the 50's. Even if we could brig back every company that relocated outside ours-- these still wouldn't bring back the same number of jobs. If companies were forced to return they (like Europe did) would rely on more automation then the cheap labor in foreign countries they do now. One thing's for sure-- there's no way any would have the need for the amount of laborers required to make things like they did in the 50's.
When we speak in terms of "making this country great again" like it once was in the 50's-- it ain't never going to happen in the same way it once was made possible for us after the war. A lot happened over the last sixty years. Although there's been lots of battles fought none have been devastating to any of the major players since then. This has allowed Europe, China, Russia and a whole host of countries to develop countless factories in global competition with our own. No amount of trade deals, tariffs or embargos can undo the history of the progress made over these past six decades. Other countries can go lots of other places if United States attempts to put the hammer down.
The only way the United States can remain a major player is by outsmarting others with new and more efficient technology then their own. This involves creating new products people want and need. This doesn't necessarily mean cheaper but rather more inventive and better products then our competition.
Another step we can take is keeping our techniques as secret as possible in hopes of preventing knock-offs. It's important to do an even better job at our nation's ports by preventing job stealing knock-off's from gaining entry into this country.
Turning wind, solar, hydro and waste byproducts into energy can play a further role It's important to find alternative cheaper ways of producing energy as well as more efficient devices powered by these generators.
Buying local can be another contributor.
Government's Role In The Economy
Too many feel the taxes we pay government is wasted. Not necessarily. Going back to the 50's--after World War 2 the United States extended credit worth $51 billion in 1940's dollars. Some of it was paid back. Much wasn't-- however all of it went directly into American labor and companies pockets. Think of it in modern terms as a stimulus package. It fared well for us.
Last year (2015) the United States out of a budget of $3.36 trillion spent $35 billion on foreign aid (just over 1%). Excluding the pallets of loot we delivered in Iraq & Afghanistan as part of our defense supplemental appropriations-- all the rest went right back to the shareholders (taxpayers) in this country in the following ways.
One could argue who should or should not get the money-- but other then those mentioned-- none of this money is magically disappearing. It's going right back here to the good ole United States workers, investors, retirees and so forth. Indeed some could be redirected more wisely into weaker areas that require support to maintain a healthy economic balance.
Too many are arguing for spending cuts at each level of government. These people need to keep in mind this kind of spending is the largest reason why the economic wheels keep getting greased even if not done the wisest way possible in each and every case. It makes no sense constantly harping on how enacting tax cuts will eventually bring in more government revenue and be better for it's citizens.
Let's put it this way. My cable company and utility companies want to generate more revenue for their investors. What do you seriously think they'd do-- lower bills? If this garbage theory were true every year our bills would be going down instead of up. The government can be thought of much in this way. Less income means less going out to taxpayers (government's form of investors) in the form of grants, subsidies and all the other things government helps support.
Unless we come up with more creative and innovated ideas to compete much of our nation will be left behind looking like downtown Detroit and the Kentucky coal fields to name but two. Nobody- not even Donald Trump-- can succeed if we don't acknowledge the situation we're in. We can't BS our way out of this one.