Why Donald Trump is an Opportunity

Posted: January 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

On the canvas of history indelible moments are painted with dramatic strokes. They stand out from the background as memorable landmarks. These public events are not necessarily pleasant, though they can be. Most often they leave people with a sense of urgency, concern, anxiety, or even rage. That’s why they are noticed and remembered.

When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States a distinctive geologic formation rose up out of the desert floor. It cannot be ignored. The impact on our country has been immense, and when I say our country that includes our people, political institutions and global standing in the world. During the past two years we have witnessed the de-construction of the United States in multi-various ways by people placed in key positions specifically tasked with throwing the switch.

The Republican party as we knew it no longer exists. In its place are those who abandoned core Republican values and converted to the POT – the Party of Trump. The super majority in the Administration and both branches of Congress sat most often in silence, sometimes facilitating the agenda of a President who threatened to tweet them into oblivion if they did not submit in lock step. Though the GOP stopped being the party of Lincoln at least by the Civil Rights movement, by now the GOP is lost even to themselves.

Democrats and other groups resisted this political movement because of the outrage that materialized on multiple fronts every single day. The accusations are familiar: The President is incompetent, corrupt, traitorous, divisive, and panders to billionaires while pretending to care about white blue collar workers. Sexual escapades were handled with cover ups and hush money and the use of campaign money perhaps even supplied by Russians.

The religious right, who Trump mobilized as a part of his base by promising judicial appointments, altered their identity forever by taking a morally neutral stance on anything and everything the President says or does. They have destroyed any hope that young people will affiliate with evangelical forms of Christianity ever again. This permanent blemish broke out on the complexion of the religious right because they aligned themselves with blind loyalty with an amoral autocrat.

Right now you are thinking about the damage done to our strategic military and economic alliances. You are remembering decisions that put corporate profit ahead of environmental protection each and every time. You are wincing at the lies told the American people about a tax bill that gave a massive windfall to the super rich as ordinary Americans benefited very little. You are thinking of the gigantic deficit this created while plans to cut Social Security and Medicare were ready to go. You will ask me to consider the disastrous effect of the tariffs. You are thinking of the systematic ways that people’s health care was ripped from them with a return to the bad old days of no protections for pre-existing conditions. You will remind me of the red herring of the proposed border wall, a promise to his base that you don’t want fulfilled, the ruthless actions taken against migrants and their families, and a persistent rhetoric about caravans and filthy, bad people. You will show me photos of kids locked up in cages and remind that resources have not been provided for more border personnel and judges. And finally you will show me a list of all indictments of this administration’s officials from the campaign forward and the exit of every person who could have brought real experience and sound judgement to the Administration. There is no one left to really steer the ship except for an oligarchy, a family empire.

I am aware of all these things and am as offended as you. The damage to our country has been immense and will take years to correct. And so, you ask, why would I speak in terms of the opportunity that Donald Trump and his sycophants have created?

This is an opportunity to demonstrate to ourselves and the world the resiliency of our democracy, to show how a people devoted to freedom, justice, equality, law, peace, compassion and prosperity can rise out of the worst of times and reclaim their destiny. In a world tilting toward tyrants and fascism we can change course and provide a hopeful example that will truly encourage the nations. How?

Every current generates its counter-currents. This painful time has clarified who we are, what we really stand for, our true values:

  • With new leadership … we can re-envision our place in the family of nations as we work on a global level to address the thorniest challenges affecting us all – security, climate change, peace-making and economic interdependence.
  • With new leadership … we can re-envision ourselves as a Statue of Liberty nation, a land of hope for immigrants, with better processes in place for legal immigration and the recognition that our nation needs immigrants as much as they need us.
  • With new leadership … we can re-envision ourselves as a Pledge of Allegiance nation, with liberty and justice for all, a renewed commitment to abandon all forms of discrimination and to provide full opportunity for all citizens under the law.
  • With new leadership … we can re-envision ourselves as a Declaration of Independence nation, as we stand independently from every other foreign power, protecting our sovereignty, making sure players in other nations do not determine our decisions.
  • With new leadership … we can re-envision ourselves as a nation of the Constitution and its Amendments. We will recognize the place of all the co-equal branches of our government and how real checks and balances will bring accountability under the law.
  • With new leadership … we can re-envision a proper relationship between church and state with government leaders not utilizing religious leaders for their own purposes and religions not abandoning their moral values in order to be close to the levers of power.
  • With new leadership … we can make some things normal and expected – available high-quality health care for all, an excellent well-funded educational system top to bottom, a functioning and improving infrastructure, and incentives for a flourishing 21st century economy.
  • With new leadership … we can re-claim our commitment to a balance between protecting the environment and encouraging economic development, moving past an either-or to a both-and.
  • With new leadership … we can honesty deal with income disparity, establish a more progressive approach to taxes, reward people and organizations for hard work and success, and extend compassion to those who are most challenged by ability or social position.

In the most hopeful scenario we may, in ten years or less, remember how the people of the United States rose above the adversity of these days and claimed our new way forward. No nation, no people, are stuck in time. Life is always shifting and moving and changing. We will not look like we did a century ago. Nor will we always look like we are now.  If we claim our foundational values and denounce that which is beneath us, there is yet hope.

Søren Kierkegaard once said that life can only be understood by looking backwards and lived by looking forwards. Now is the time to do both. And even though it sounds outrageous, Donald Trump may have provided us with our greatest opportunity to do just that.

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