Perhaps the worst thing Donald Trump has done to our country is to turn us into groups of people who are “against” ideas.
People who are against immigration – whether it be children brought here at a tender age or those fleeing persecution.
People who are against healthcare simply because it bears the name of a former President.
People who are against Muslims, Mexicans, and anyone whose color isn’t lily white.
Democrats who reflexively oppose any proposal put forth by a Republican and Republicans who automatically oppose any proposal put forth by a Democrat.
Do you remember when America stood FOR something?
I do. I remember when America stood for defending democracy against tyranny – from the beaches of Normandy to the jungles of Vietnam.
When we defeated the scourge of polio because millions upon millions of us contributed our dimes to fund research that led to a safe vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk – who refused to patent his discovery so that it could be available cheaply to everyone.
When Americans believed we could put a man on the moon because we were willing to face a new frontier and conquer it.
When we believed that because we were a nation blessed by God we showed it by building a longer table, not a higher wall.
The Marshall Plan following World War II helped most of Europe recover from economic catastrophe.
Or the Berlin Airlift when we dropped tons upon tons of supplies upon a city cut off from the rest of the world by the Soviet Union.
But now we are being led by a man who is only for one thing – himself. America First is not America Great – it is America Alone. He has abdicated our moral leadership by embracing dictators ranging from Vladimir Putin, Duterte, to Kim Jung Un. Our long-time allies such as Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, West Germany, and France can no longer rely on us.
A man who looks on NATO as some kind of money making scheme – demanding that other members pay “their fair share” when, in fact, many are paying a higher percentage of the GDP than the United States does. And he conveniently forgets that the only time Article Five of the NATO Treaty was invoked in its 50 year plus history was to come to the aid of the United States following the 9/11 attacks.
We are, quite literally, the laughing stock of the world, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s opening lines of his recent speech to the United Nations General Assembly. Not to mention his earlier remarks that we were working with the nation of Colombia to eradicate cocoa. No, that’s not a typo, and he was “reading” from a prepared statement.
The recent controversy regarding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is a perfect example. Did you hear anyone in the Senate who was actually “for” Kavanaugh? What it basically boiled down to was the Democrats were opposed to him and the Republicans were opposed to the Democrats for opposing him.
Abraham Lincoln famously said “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.”
We are perilously close to the divide again. We need leaders who stand for something. Dr. King had a dream, not a business plan. Ronald Reagan saw a “shining city on a hill” and George H.W. Bush beheld “a thousand points of light.” Donald Trump mocked a victim of sexual assault.
Perhaps that is why Beto O’Rourke is outperforming all expectations in Texas. From what I have seen of his campaign, he talks about the concepts and policies he is for, not the ideologies or people he is against – and I think that is a positive message that the American people are hungering for.
America used to stand for decency, compassion, and justice for all. Somewhere in the last few years we have lost our way. We are wandering in a wilderness of doubt, of dissention, and of demagoguery.
For those of us who believe that America has always been great, we must remain positive and focused. We must not forsake our principles for political expediency, and we must demand the same of our elected representatives – from school board members to the halls of Congress.
It is okay to be tired, to be frustrated, and weary of the fight. But it is not okay to give up hope. In the words of Emily Dickinson:
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,
And sings the tunes without the words
And never stops at all.”