Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Letter to America



I don’t understand. 

Donald Trump continues to attack our government agencies and institutions, our neighbors in Canada and Mexico, our allies in NATO and the European Union, bipartisan congressional efforts to protect the Dreamer kids born in this country, and steps to control the climate crisis—devastating storms and fires we all know are getting worst every season. He’s defended white nationalists and taken children—even babies and toddlers from their immigrant parents, families seeking asylum in the United States because their lives in their home country is at brutal risk—children removed without a plan to return them. He’s making a great effort to convince us that Russia and North Korea are now ‘competitors’ and friendly partners for world peace and the countries we’ve stood by for 70 years are now unappreciative ‘foes.’

For many Americans, about 40% to be exact, Donald Trump is rebuilding the American economy. Wages and job openings have increased. He’s insisting that companies build and operate in America and he's stood up to China about unfair trade tariffs. I can see why support for his economic approach is substantial. I can even see why his push for a conservative Supreme Court promises a return to middle America—the America of the 1950s when ‘aberrant’ norms weren’t a part of the American landscape—abortion was unacceptable, most gay, lesbian, transgender equality were closeted, welfare rolls were controllable, and let’s be honest: white people dominated in a way that left non-white people inferior and unprotected. 

Donald Trump promises a return to those times. He bashes illegal immigrants and liberal judges and the press who warns against him and he divides us into legitimate and illegitimate Americans. He offers permission to criticize and taunt people who look or believe differently, even those who dare to wear a tee shirt with the Puerto Rico flag on it, or who insist on a humane immigration that maintains the country’s safety and  border control but also recognizes the need and value of immigrants to our society.

I grew up in the Fifties. It was a time when I walked three blocks to and from school and  safely left my house each summer morning, came home for lunch, and left again until suppertime. My parents didn’t worry about my safety because there was no need. 

It was a time when churches offered sanctuaries and protections to refugee families who came to America; the State of the Union speeches and the President’s proclamations were more or less respected, and Democratic and Republican members of Congress routinely faced problems and passed bills together. 

It was a time when most of the families I knew—most white—had a mother and a father and had a chance at owning their own house. 

It was a time when manufacturing offered skilled jobs a time before the Information Age of computers and cell phones and cyber security. 

I hear a lot of reasons why he has support: Hillary was an ineffective candidate (mostly true); immigrants take American jobs and depress wages (not true), other countries take advantage of us (mostly not true). I can accept concerns along these lines; I can even understand and agree with the actual facts that contradict my own beliefs.

But folks, something’s brewing that you won’t see coming until it’s on top of you. Our democracy—the norms that follow the rule of law, the premise that America helps welcomes those in need, the belief that people are created equal— sooner or later, you’ll have to face that Donald Trump is systematically, and cleverly, trying to convince us that if we don’t circle our wagons, we’re screwed. If our Congress and ourselves allow him to govern as a one-man show, with his obvious flaws of narcissism and racism and willingness to take extreme positions, even if they hurt people, even if they include a threat to blow up the people of North Korea or denounce our legal system of amnesty—our country may survive in the long run, but it will no longer be the country you know. 

So what does that mean? Well, it means our friends in the world—Canada, France, England, Germany—are reduced to transactional competitors: friendship will not be based on shared values but on financial deals. 

It means Americans will be repudiated and disliked, to the point that international business and vacation travel will be unsafe. It means our country will benefit from selling arms to rogue and oppressive nations. It means the NRA will control the proliferation of guns and our schools, our shopping malls and movie theaters—our children—will be the targets of mass murderers. It means that slowly but surely, you will start to see people with dark skin as threats and they will no longer feel safe in our country. It means our judiciary and press and national security agencies will be questioned and criticized and you won’t know what or who to believe any longer. 

There’s more, of course. I remember when I lived in Germany, I asked the German husband of my American friend how and why his parents allowed Hitler to exterminate the Jews. “It didn’t start off that way,” he said, “And when they realized what was happening, their own lives were at risk if they dared speak up. So they didn’t, at least not publicly.”

Is this where America is headed? Possibly. Probably not, not to the extreme of Nazi Germany, but possibly. If our Congress doesn’t act, and the Democratic party doesn't offer a concrete plan for immigration and border control and job growth and international relationships, and more of our citizens don’t vote, it will be up to a man who believes that all of life and human goodness is about money and transactions and deals, a man who is poorly read, who discards history, who compliments tyrants and betrays allies, who believes in white supremacy—to build America in his image.

I know some of Donald Trump’s supporters—his ‘base,” agree with him, but I also know the vast majority of Americans do not, even those who support his Presidency know by now who he really is. 


We have to get past the vehement thinking of each other as bleeding heart liberals or  cold hearted conservatives. I don’t know exactly how we do that, but the country’s in danger. Recognizing that danger is a first and essential step. The second step is taking the time to sort the truth from the lies. That’s a stressful and depressing and time-consuming thing to have to do, but I can’t think of a more important time to care enough. Yes it hurts to be bombarded with the Trump Reality Show every day and yes it’s understandable to stop believing anything from any source. 

But the alternative is bad. Possibly, really bad. 

18 comments:

  1. I think you do understand how things are and the way they're evolving very well. What you do not understand is a flawed system that has become all about money and political parties which depend upon it. I am not in any way a supporter of the Republican party or anything he of the orange hair is doing and while I believe the republicans have lost their minds and most of them are irrationally angry, the Democrats have been beating the same drum they always do when what is called for is a multi-level plan to address government, foreign affairs, internal politics and voting, economics and social policy. Our electoral College, dominated by Republicans, failed in its duty to keep an unqualified man from office. Our middle class has been dying for years and people are angry and those that vote make it known by their choices. Too much in this country is under corporate control, our independent press is dying and we are becoming unrecognizable even to ourselves. It is too easy to be bigoted and want to harken back to the world of our youth as white men, a world which as you and others have pointed out, was horrible for women, people of color, those with disabilities and any other minority. Stop shaking your head. Sign petitions, call and write your congress persons and representatives. Know who the candidates for judge and other offices in your community are, research issues, including parties like the Greens which favor ranked voting and party overhaul, and research how money flows and where it goes. Anger is also fueling this mess.

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    1. e, yes to everything you’ve said. I especially agree the Democrats had better present some solid counter plans soon. The midterms are a big deal.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, e. Much appreciated.
      Love
      kj

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  2. This is such a difficult time we are in as a country. The things this administration are doing is going to affect generations to come. Not what you hear in the news...but quietly behind the scenes. He is an egomaniac, conman and liar. He has always been that way..I just hope we can survive this crazy train ride.

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    1. Hello and welcome💜
      I hope we survive in a way we still recognize our country.
      Love
      kj

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  3. This is a very sad post, Karen.

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    1. Indeed, Wieneke. Sad and crazy.
      Love
      kj

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  4. Sadly many people around the world think less of Americans for having allowed this man to gain such prominence in the world. His stated beliefs and his historic actions tell us about the kind of man he is. Who votes for someone like this? Arguably someone who thinks the alternative is equally abhorrent or worse. It is a scary world KJ but full of good people, decent people, liberal minded and compassionate people. If we remain silent then I’m afraid we get what we deserve ... well maybe not deserve as such, but we get what we get.
    How can we help but feel afraid when common decency no longer seems like it holds sway? We MUST speak out, attend rallies, make our voices heard in defence of our beliefs. Will we prevail? Certainly the future is uncertain but we of good heart must remain HOPEFUL. Despair is defeat of a kind. I think it saps us of strength and the will to fight.
    We are fighting to remain close to our European friends here in the UK, I don’t want to live in a disconnected world where friendships become alliances of convenience either KJ. The rallies whenTrump visited speak of our distaste for what he stands for. I share no common ground with this man as far as I can tell. Why should I not say so?
    My heart is with you xx Jos

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    1. Hello my dear Jos!!!!
      Yes we have to speak out and act and fight negative energy with goodness. It’s astounding that this one man has been allowed to prevail without a knock-out.
      💜
      kj

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  5. Its not just America KJ.. all over the world, the pressure of 7 billion and growing is starting to build up.. protectionism is on the rise, as is Xenophobia. Today, my son and I were playing, " I would like to live in..." and each set had 4-5 choices. It was appalling how much we don't want to get out of our comfort zone, and I realised for the first time, how bleakly I view the world!

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    1. hdwk, a good friend was telling me she thinks overpopulation is a riot cause of our troubling world view. I wonder, is that so? Do we attack others on the basis of scarcity?

      The world has sufficient resources. And yet we are fed to believe otherwise.
      Love
      kj

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  6. As a native New Yorker I have long known what Trump is all about. What has surprised me is the Republican party which seems to have abandoned every single thing they have historically stood for. They have failed in upholding the checks and balances built into our political system and now the Supreme Court appears to be headed down the same road. The only hope I can see is to vote in a majority of people who are willing to bring values back into the system which so inherently depends on them.

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    1. Perfectly said, 8. We have to get out the vote. Every. Single. Vote.
      Love
      kj

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    2. I think you make a very good point. The Republicans used to dismiss the Democrats as the party of "tax and spend," but now they have been become the party of "deficits aren't a bad thing." When I first heard Cheney say that, I nearly fell out of my seat because the only thing that ever attracted me about the Republican Party was that they at least advocated fiscal responsibility.

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  7. Oh, don't worry. The vote will get out. Every single one. Why do you think the liberals want all the illegals here,,,,criminal and otherwise?
    Already happening in Cali. Much more to come. It's all they have.New voters.
    I am no Trumper, did not vote for him, but crass as he is, I approve of many of his policies. Taking our country back from the gluts of illegals that we are largely supporting from the cradle to the grave.
    Not those in the shadows, they will be dealt with honestly and fairly, but the hordes coming up through Central America and beyond.
    A new day yes,but many of us lived through Obama and his apologizing for the 'nasty 'ol U.S.A.',,,,and you never saw a reaction such as this.
    People need to respect the office, if not the man,,,,look to his accomplishments,accept that he and Bill Clinton and many others have been crass, immoral men, and get on down the road.

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  8. KJ, you know of my Republican friend. She is also a Christian, and she outlined what this means to her in more detail than usual in response to my latest post. She is also an unabashed supporter of Donald Trump, and, despite doing my best to understand how she can worship a God of love and embrace a politics of hatred, I have failed completely, and she's no help. The only reason she has given for supporting him is that her retirement accounts are doing well. As for his bad faith in appointing people to head agencies who are dedicated to demolishing those agencies, or his statement that a free press is an enemy of the state, or his taking children from their desperate parents (losing the children within the system and expelling the parents without their children), or his boasting of sexually assaulting women when she herself has been sexually assaulted, she has nothing to say. I suppose they don't matter to her. Yet she claims to be guided by a God of love who speaks to her directly at times. I can't imagine a greater disconnect. What the hell does her god of love tell her that she can support this man?! I can but surmise that, whatever the source of her adoration of Trump, it's not rational except to the extent that extreme tribalism is rational.

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  10. Yes, the problem goes well beyond one rogue president or one destructive political party. After all, upon "winning" the Nobel Peace Prize for what he said he was going to do, Obama expanded the wars we were already in while deporting more people than his predecessor, and coming down harder on "whistle blowers" than his predecessor. But what could be more destructive in terms of our election system than the Supreme Court's ruling that corporations have the same free speech rights as people?

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  11. KJ, I meant my last comment to be in response to e, but it didn't go there, so I deleted it and tried again to put it into the correct place, but it still didn't go there, so I'll have to give up. Thank you for a very interesting post. As you know, I value you greatly, and while we've had our differences in the past, I hear myself in everything you say about Trump, for we not only vigorously disapprove of him, we are horrified, both by him and by those who support him. When Obama was elected, there was speculation that we had entered some "post racial society," and while that never made sense to me, I wasn't prepared for the eight years of intense hatred that he received, a hatred that I could only interpret as coming from bigotry because while he wasn't a good president, he surely wasn't among the worst. During those eight years, I couldn't turn on conservative talk radio without hearing him called Barack HUSSEIN Obama, and then there were the daily claims that he wasn't even born in the U.S. Well, forget post racial, now that Trump is president, the hatred of anyone who is not white, evangelical, and anti-intellectual is no more concealed than a hairless dog in winter. It's so often true that it's the very people who are in the best position to do good (like Trump and the dictators he adores) who have zeros for the rights of others and who think of no one but themselves.

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