Wake Up America

Wake up, America. Our president has proven himself unfit to lead the nation. His vision of America does not extend beyond himself, and he does not have any sense of empathy. Anything that contradicts his hyper-inflated self-image is dismissed as a Democratic hoax, or as fake media. Reporters who ask tough questions are told “you should be ashamed of yourself.”

In Trump’s vision of America, he proudly sees the destroyed mountain tops and polluted air that come from mining and burning what he calls “beautiful coal.” He sees America’s relationship with allies as a competition in which America will dominate trade, international organizations, and military power. Trump is America First and the rest of the world be damned.

He describes multi-state trade deals and treaties that were in place when he took office with words like “the worst trade deal ever (NAFTA).” The Paris Climate Accord was abandoned because, Trump said, of the “draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.” He ignored the environmental catastrophe that will confront our grandchildren. The president pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Accord with France, Germany, Britain, Russia, China and Iran because he said it was “fatally flawed,” despite the fact that it was working as intended.

The president rejects the advice of scientists, military leaders, and experts. As he said with regard to military leaders, “I know more than the generals;” and, “I trust my gut more” than the expert advice he receives.  Recognized experts who dare to disagree with him are bullied and pushed out of the White House. Absolute loyalty (rather than knowledge, experience, competence and integrity) is the sole qualification for serving in the Trump administration. After all, he is the self-proclaimed “very stable genius.”

Trump’s vision of America doesn’t include immigrants but does include the “good people” in white supremacy groups. And it certainly does not include strong women such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. He seems most comfortable in the company of white men who kowtow to him. His campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” evokes an image from the good old days run by good old boys.

This is not my America

This is not the America I envision.  My America holds high the original motto of the United States: E Pluribus Unum: “out of many, one.” My America embraces the words of welcome to immigrants found on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse from your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

 As I wrote in my 2013 book (The Idea of America) “My America is a democracy that depends on rational debate among reasonable people. In my America, politics is an honorable profession in which elected representatives seek consensus solutions to seemingly intractable problems, never forgetting that their duty is to the people.

“I believe that today’s America and her leaders have lost their way in a cacophony of garish words, rigid dogma and a rapacious unwillingness to seek common ground among competing ideologies. This has led to a frustrated, cynical and dispirited citizenry, and an increasingly skeptical international community. We are not only losing ground as leaders; we are losing common ground among ourselves.

 “I have hope, however, that in this 21st century we will rebound, and our differences will be approached in such a way that my four grandchildren will inherit a nation that is just and is true to the principles of liberal democracy. The citizens of such a  nation will commit themselves to providing a first rate education to all children; guaranteeing equality of opportunity in the workplace regardless of gender, ethnicity, physical ability or sexual preference; preserving and treading lightly upon the natural environment; and, creating a sustainable future that serves the common good, lifts up the most vulnerable among us and ensures adequate nutrition, shelter and healthcare for all.”

But for this hope to become reality we must first reclaim America by removing the Trump millstone hanging around our national neck. It weighs us down and saps our energy. We can then rebuild–––stone by stone–––a nation with on solid foundation of equality, freedom, common good, decency and democracy.


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