On Patriotism

A FaceBook friend encouraged me to expand on a quote I made several days ago.

Trump does not represent the best of the United States. He personifies the worst of us. He represents the fearful, the White Supremacists, the corrupt, the greedy, the misogynists, the homophobes, the xenophobes and the people who don’t care about others–far less than half support him. He does not represent me.

Growing up, I spent my kindergarten years in Germany (where I learned German), my grade-school days in El Paso (where I learned Mexican Spanish) and my high-school years in Bangkok, (where I learned to speak Thai and Castillian Spanish.) No, I was not your typical teen but a pretty ordinary Army brat. But through it all, I learned to love the United States and longed to return. I soaked up American history while living in Virginia while my dad was stationed at the Pentagon, and we visited the real Civil War battlefields and handled real muskets. I studied its government and more of its history in college and even began to study the law. I then enlisted and fought in Vietnam for two reasons: I had to, and I believed in giving back a small part of what the country had given to me growing up.

Yes, I still love the United States. No, today I’m not proud of what it’s become. Today, I realized that the United States, as represented by Donald Trump, is not the US I grew up loving. Of course, in the ’50s and later, I did not have to tolerate the untold cruelty that blacks, Latinos, and Asians had to endure, but my parents taught me to respect others and tolerate those with different upbringings. It was still America, still the United States and I had hope that I could make it even better.

More recently, for reasons we’ve discussed at length, the country was taken over by a man and a regime which tolerates White Supremacy and Nazism even though my dad fought in a war to crush it. It brought those who would dismantle the government into the White House and offered to sell off the country one cabinet position at a time. The departments of Education was to be led by someone who hates public schools, the DOE by an ex-oil executive who hates green power, the FCC by someone who wants to sell off the Internet to the highest bidder, the EPA to someone who sued it how many dozens of times to permit egregious pollution to go unchecked. Whatever big business, big oil, big pharma and especially the gun manufacturers got exactly what they wanted–free rein. Their taxes were lowered and the Justice Department began sending out squads of ICE officials to round up anyone with a brown skin and jail their kids.

Instead of electing the best, the brightest, the most moral, the most thoughtful, the most honest man as President, we managed to elect Trump. We were all let down by the safeguard the Constitution provided–the Electoral College. We were unable to stop a powerful and overtly evil and ruthless foreign power from influencing the election and the public media afterward.

So yes, I loved the United States–the one we once had–where people were treated fairly regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation or if they voted for the other party. A country where “immigrant” was not a dirty word, where “pussy” was a cute kitten, where corporations and citizens had to toe the regulatory line to protect our land, sea, water, air, and food. We once had a country where women were not treated like meat, where marriage meant something, where the administration knew how to work with our allies and keep its promises–even when they were hard to keep.

I remember where the government and Congress recognized our true enemies–the countries and organizations who would buy their influence and do whatever they could to foment distrust, fragment our alliances, and take advantage of the weakest, most vulnerable legislators and officials to forward their own country’s (or corporate) interests. Given the amount of NRA, Russian, Ukranian, Turkish, Chinese and North Korean influence over the last few months and weeks, it’s clear the nation’s leaders have been assimilated by the Borg. The Republicans in Congress (and many Democrats) have been unable or unwilling to rein in Trump–perhaps for fear of losing financial support from those same powerful opponents.

Of course, before Trump, things were not always fair, honest, and respectable. Criminals in Congress were indicted and went to jail then too, but now it seems every cabinet department is wracked with malfeasance, utter stupidity, willful ignorance, corruption and scandals of all ilk. No, this is not the country I loved.

My only hope is that we can begin to return to our country after the November elections. But given the low voter turnout in the recent primaries, that hope has been dimmed.

No, the country represented by the ignorant, bigoted, misogynist, xenophobic, homophobic, fake-Christian, corrupt, would-be dictator, this is not the country I love. It’s the administration I hate. Every time Trump breaks another treaty and does exactly what Vladimir Putin wants him to do, every time he waddles into an international summit and makes our closest allies furious and our enemies smile, I know this is not the man who represents the best of our country.

There are millions of good, smart, honest, hard-working and loving, families out there who he does not represent. He certainly does not represent me.

 

Bill

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