Americans can no longer fool anyone about who they really are as a nation.
It is hard to watch a president of the United States butcher his native language whenever he opens his mouth. Even when trying to articulate a simplistic vision for America and an avenue to get there, little beyond the slogan “Make America Great Again” is intelligible. I often watch in stunned silence as Trump holds court in the only language he knows, sounding as if it were a second language that he only recently discovered. But even sadder than a failed capacity to articulate a vision is that millions of Americans think that he has.
So, where is the nation headed with this lying moron at the helm? Unfortunately, now a year and half into Trump’s reign, there is no clear answer. When misogyny itself didn’t quite do the trick, it would have been reasonable to assume that misogyny, plus racism, plus narcissism, plus locking up kids, plus an utter disregard for the truth would have combined to have enough folks in all walks of life say “enough.” But it just isn’t there yet and may never get there.
The new mainstream media tactic of calling the supreme leader a liar right after taking the time to spread the very lies they are about to condemn doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact. There continues to be a large constituency with an affinity for ungrammatical and intentionally misleading statements, regardless of the subject matter. “Witch-hunt” and “fake news” routinely are substituted for complete sentences that might give us a clue about how the supreme leader arrives at his conclusions.
My favorite response from those trying to decipher the Trump message is: “The devil is in the details.” Sorry, there are no details, and the devil is in the White House.
Where It All Began
This whole Trump “adventure” started with a ride down an escalator in a garish building Trump named for himself. After getting off the escalator, he told the world in a rambling speech detailing his “vision” of an America under siege that he was seeking the Republican Party nomination for the presidency of the United States.
The general notion that America was in woeful shape beset by unresolved problems caused by Democrats and terrorists and immigrants would have put him right in line with a bunch of other lowlife Republicans already in the race. But that wasn’t enough for Trump on this momentous occasion.
He grabbed the headlines by denouncing with specificity those he thought to be at the core of America’s decline. Nothing stood out more from that speech than prescient words about Mexicans and Mexico that became a rallying cry that would carry Trump to victory. On that occasion, he announced to the world that Mexico was America’s biggest abuser because everyone knew that they were sending a hoard of marauding rapists and criminals laden with drugs into our beloved homeland cleverly hidden among a few “good people.”
That auspicious beginning, and all of the immigrant-bashing rhetoric, policy and pronouncements that have followed, has yielded the most bitter of pills to swallow for those with even the most unrefined moral compass — children in cages separated from their parents by action of the United States government at the direction of Trump and his cabal. Even when forced to a half-hearted retreat, Trump’s smiling white face and the pathetic blond bimbo of a Homeland Security secretary by his side did nothing to erase the images of scared and already damaged children in dire need of a crucial measure of parental comfort.
Nothing done by fiat, nor the pathetic musings of congressional moral midgets, will even begin to undo the damage done by Trump. Crafting compassionate immigration reform, searching for racial justice and confronting environmental concerns are all in national retreat. Add to this the unaddressed ravages of gun violence, health and education systems in crisis, and poverty and income inequality fueled by corporate greed. In this morass, those magical “thoughts and prayers” have run out of rhyme only to be replaced by a new mantra: “This is not who we are.”
This Is America
Wake up, folks. If this is not who are are, at the very least it is who we have allowed ourselves to become. America as a moral beacon has been long lost in a sea of international bloodshed fueled by some notion that this nation could somehow kill itself to a better world and sell enough armaments to the “righteous” that a better order would emerge from the fog of war. On the home front, the twin towers of individual greed and racial injustice have overwhelmed any sense of collective morality, leaving millions adrift and subject to whatever invective spews from the mouths of those without a conscience.
It is way past time to stop talking about remaking America’s self-delusional greatness. Instead, it is time to start talking about remaking America. It is time to confront the shameful aspects of our history, and of just yesterday, to begin to define a new promise.
The animated version of the American story still plays to large audiences attracted by smiling white faces singing “God Bless America” and frolicking amidst the bounty. But it just isn’t so and never has been.
The real version of the American story is a mixture of triumph and tragedy, launchings and lynchings, palaces and poverty, peacemaking and peace breaking. Today, America’s historical path has led to a society in which many suffer while others grab more than a fair share, where cop killings and the killing of cops bloody our streets, where elementary school curriculums include active shooter drills, where cultural diversity is all the rage, literally.
This is not to say that there is nothing good in America, including a lot of good people. It is to say that we can no longer fool anyone about who we really are as a nation. We have become what we appear to be, a divided society in conflict unable to either redefine or reclaim a collective morality.
Think for just a minute about your response to a border guard dragging a crying toddler from its mother. Then take a minute to think about your response to a border guard kneeling down in front of a crying toddler, wiping away both of their tears, and hugging that child. That is America in conflict with itself.
*[A version of this article was also featured on the author’s blog, Hard Left Turn.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.