Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Declaring Ourselves

 Last week, Donald Trump took to Twitter to offer another erratic rant, this time directed toward Mika Brzezinski, the co-host of MSNBC’s morning show.  The tweets were the combination of casual mysogyny and incoherent insult that we’ve come to expect from this president.  Condemnation from all quarters swiftly followed.

The next day, we all went about our business as usual.  Some of us, those who were never fans of Trump, thought some more about what he said and what it means to have a national leader who is sexist, venal, and self-absorbed.  We thought about the message this rhetoric sends to our young women and girls.  We were reminded yet again that gender inequality remains the order of the day and that’s just fine with the man who is “our” president.  

The GOP, those who endure Trump because he will sign their preferred legislation into law, offered their usual lip service condemnation of the president’s words.  It’s toothless and cheap; they have absolutely no intention of demanding his resignation or insisting that we’ve had enough and that this must stop.  They have their eye on the prize of Republican policy victory and are willing for women to endure persistent humiliation if that is what it takes.  

Of course, it’s not just women who pay the price of this presidency.  It’s children in need of nourishment and opportunity; it’s people of color who protest on-going racism and ignorance; it’s people who need quality healthcare; it’s would-be immigrants in search of liberty and opportunity; it’s the environment; it’s free speech and a free press; it’s a world which once welcomed and respected U.S. leadership but now doubts us.  The list could go on and go.  We are all of us degraded by the Trump presidency.

My brand of patriotism has never been without self-reflection.  I know that the United States has moved in fits and starts to the equality and liberty we claimed for ourselves in 1776.  I know the promise remains unfulfilled.  This day, the day we celebrate the American Declaration of Independence, seems like a timely opportunity to renew my pledge to insist that my nation be a true city on a hill.

The shortcomings of our current president are dangerous to our liberal democracy.  The long train of Trump abuses has reached the limits of our national patience.  Republicans who bemoan the president’s virulent rhetoric while continuing to ally with him should be seen as cowards.  The men who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the promise of ideas bigger then their self-interest.  In that risk came their greatness.  On that path lies our way forward.

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