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If You Still Support Trump

February 1st, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

An open letter to those who still believe Donald Trump will “Make America Great Again”

I am a veteran of the United States Navy who served during the Vietnam War. I am writing to condemn the Trump administration’s assault on decency and democracy and your immoral defense of it. We may disagree on specific policies and the direction of government, you may be conservative and I may be liberal, but we should not disagree on those things that have made the United States the beacon of light in the world: liberty, equality, justice. It was these principles I volunteered to defend during wartime.

Trump supporters have said they like a man who speaks his mind and is not constrained by “political correctness.” This, they say, is what drew them to Donald Trump, even though the mind he spoke and continues to speak is apparently filled with unprincipled ambition, overweening pride, prejudice, vindictiveness, and pettiness. So may I say at the outset that I intend to write plain truth, not softened by subtlety, about the embarrassment this administration already is to the United States, and about the culpability of Trump supporters.

Mr. Trump claims to have a desire to “make America great again.” It is a slogan designed to instill a fear of national decline. It points to a mythological age when the United States was not only the most powerful nation on earth but also the best, in terms of its commitment to the principles embedded in our founding documents. Mr. Trump declared on the campaign trail that the last time America was great was when Ronald Reagan was president. But Mr. Reagan himself used this slogan hearkening to the era immediately following World War II, when the United States had reached the pinnacle of its sense of mission by selfless sacrifice to overcome totalitarianism and by standing to defend American values for the entire world.

That vision of greatness must be tempered in the rational mind by inconvenient facts. Among these are: that for all of its military might and superiority, the United States has not been able to achieve a successful resolution to any major military commitment since World War II, that the United States has squandered much of the goodwill it gained from its victory in World War II by supporting anti-democratic, tyrannical, and immoral regimes around the world, that America’s self-righteous self-congratulation at the end of World War II ignored major injustices in the fabric of American Society concerning civil liberties and civil rights that would explode into rebellion in the years following, and which we still struggle to resolve. None of these pressing concerns can be rectified by supporting a buffoonish demagogue. We will do well to remind ourselves that Adolf Hitler was regarded as a buffoon, until he stole an election and set out to make Germany great again.

It was not with greatness but inconvenient facts that during his campaign for the Presidency Donald Trump painted a dystopian picture of America, tapping a into discontent arising from the fact that reality is at odds with the noblest vision of what we tell ourselves America ought to be. But, paradoxically, Donald Trump’s own words, actions, and history bubble up from the depths of America’s fetid historical darkness and are antithetical to our fundamental values. To be sure, he did not tap into an overwhelming discontent, more people voted against him than for him, and many of those who voted for him did so holding their nose hoping he might somehow be better than what many felt was an even grimmer alternative.

In fact, Mr. Trump’s core supporters are a minority who until the last few years have been on the fringe of civilized society: neo-Nazis, the KKK, conspiracy theory nut jobs, and xenophobes. They have succeeded in creating a paranoid alternative universe that Trump now puts forward as his vision of what is not great about America. This fake reality is built upon a foundation of twisted truths and naked fabrications that mischaracterize the threats America faces. They identify anyone who is different as a threat. They fail to realize that they themselves present the greatest menace to American values. They are no different in their malicious ideology than their historical counterparts. The difference is that we thought we had relegated them to the dustbin of history. Now this sentiment has a champion in the White House.

By casting aside every appeal to decency in public discourse as “political correctness,” Trump and his core supporters captured the imaginations of many who have come to feel that their government doesn’t really work for them. In that they are not wrong but as is the case with all demagogues the blame is cast where it does not belong. Encouraged by what can only be described as an “alternative fact” (lie) machine that blame has been amplified against Mexicans, Muslims, gays, liberals, essentially everywhere but where it belongs: against the big money players.

I can agree that the rank and file of Trump supporters are not evil people. I can agree that they may have been duped by slick salesmen, as we all might have been.  But the events that have occurred since the election, and particularly since Mr. Trump was inaugurated, indicate clearly that Donald Trump is not for the little guy or for the country. He is for himself above all, and secondarily for his billionaire cronies. He and his regime throw little hate filled treats to his supporters to distract them from the real power grab. It has come time to say plainly that people who still support him are not the patriots they imagine themselves to be. In fact, they are unpatriotic and against America’s core values.

  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to appeal to people’s fears rather than their aspirations.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values for a political candidate to openly encourage violence against his opponents.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values for a leader to disrespect and denigrate vulnerable individuals and groups, to relentlessly threaten one’s critics with lawsuits or worse, and to mock a person’s disabilities like a playground bully.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to criticize and seek to circumvent First Amendment rights to free expression.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to ridicule American patriots: those who sacrificed in war and those who sacrificed at home for civil rights.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to cozy up to our nation’s most ardent enemies.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to put the nation and indeed the world at risk by impetuously tweeting foreign policy threats against our rivals.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to discriminate against any ethnicity, nationality, or religion. Period.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to twist the language of liberty into “America First” jingoism.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to turn the nation’s back on the world’s tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to present to the world a face that is jealous and fearful rather than one that is generous and accepting, as Americans historically are.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to use the Presidency as a platform for spreading extremist falsehoods.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to place the welfare of the people at risk to aggrandize oneself and one’s billionaire cronies.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to place one’s personal welfare and ambition before adherence to the constitution.
  • It is unpatriotic and against America’s core values to continue to support a man who is openly celebrated by neo-Nazis, the KKK, and America’s foreign enemies.

It is morally inexcusable to continue to support this man. If you do, you are unpatriotic and stand in opposition to America’s core values. The fact is those who claim to love the country the most have unleashed radical forces that threaten to undo America’s greatness, perhaps irreparably. Many Trump supporters may believe they are true patriots, as those who clamored for secession in 1860 thought they were being true to the constitution as they actively destroyed it. However, history has judged that action to be treason. And history maintains a vigilant eye.

It is time for all Americans: young and old, liberal and conservative, all religions and ethnicities to speak out vigorously for America’s values and against the Trump administration. It is time to speak out against division, xenophobia, bigotry, and injustice. Donald Trump is no more friend to conservatives or the little guy than he is any group that is currently the target of his ire. Silence not only works against your own interests, it places you on the wrong side of history.The world is watching. History’s judgment will be merciless.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

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