NOTE: In July of 2005 I wrote a commentary, The Fifth of July, where I examined my patriotism in the Age of George Bush 2. Scooter Libby, VP Dick Cheney’s right-hand man, had recently “outed” Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative because her husband had criticized their administration. Shocking and unpatriotic. You may recognize Scooter’s name—he was recently pardoned by President Trump.
Today is the Fourth of July, one of my favorite holidays. I always put on one of my Thomas Jefferson tee-shirts. I put out the flags, the Stars and Stripes and the Peace Sign flag, sit on my front porch and then read the Declaration of Independence. Later we walk a few blocks to watch the parade that goes up 41st Street, then down 42nd Street. We stand on lawns and visit with old friends and drink beer from their keg.
As much as I enjoy our neighborhood tradition, I’m just not feeling as patriotic as I have in past years. As I lay in bed last night I couldn’t fall asleep, depressing news from the week (Judge Kennedy’s retirement, NATO bashing, Tariff War escalation, and Trump’s heartless immigrant family separations) kept rumbling around inside my head. I’m embarrassed and ashamed that Donald Trump became the leader of my country.
Our current President scowls instead of smiles. He divides instead of unites. He admires dictators and scorns our allies. He acts crazy and rude and seems to have absolutely no compassion.
Despite this, a steady 40% of Americans think Trump is doing a good job. I find this incomprehensible.
President Trump seems to have two objectives: 1) personal enrichment, and 2) destroying anything and everything that our prior president stood for and helped build. When I last saw President Barack Obama on TV talking and smiling it made me cry. Though Obama often disappointed me, I really miss having Obama as my President.
So, what is patriotism about? Our physical land? Our history, Constitution or people? Our flag or national anthem? Our President? Voting, protesting, serving the country? It’s confusing.
But every patriotic American should be furious that a foreign government attempted to influence our 2016 Presidential election. Yes, this REALLY happened. Where is the outrage? Oh it’s just politics. NO IT IS NOT. Vladimir Putin, Trump’s buddy, messed with our democracy. If Russia had intervened on the side of Hillary Clinton, and she buddied up with Putin, she would have been impeached by now. Where is Congressional action to prevent this from happening during the upcoming Midterm Election?
When the flags have been put away and the fireworks finally stop, it’s time to display true patriotism. It’s not by waiving the flag or singing the Star Spangled Banner or chanting “USA, USA, USA.” The President of the United States is the one person that can lead with true patriotism—and our current president isn’t.