BY GUEST BLOGGER CECELIA BLALOCK -- You can stick it on a hat, scream it before thousands of wildly cheering fans, use it as a hashtag, or turn it into an acronym. Make America Great Again is still a fool’s errand, at least by Donald Trump’s definition.
The fact is that the President of the United States has no understanding of, or appreciation for, what made America great and if defended will continue to do so. In Trump’s world, greatness is all about “winning”. Winning in terms of money, of power as measured by military hardware and intimidation, of deals tilted heavily in our favor, and primarily of his personal fame.
America wins if it stands alone and makes others bend to its will. It wins only if it does things Trump’s way. In this selfish, narrow worldview, America welcomes only those who have already made it, who come with wealth or skills to make us even richer. It’s also becoming painfully obvious that to Trump winning means being white and Christian.
He’s all wrong.
What made America great is the common acceptance of the values and ideals set forth by those who established our nation. In our own eyes and in the eyes of the world, America has stood for freedom, equality, and opportunity. We can say what we want, think what we want, worship (or not) as we want, assemble as we want. A free press holds us and our leaders accountable. How many times have you said, “It’s a free country” when challenged?
Anyone can become an American. We are a motley group whether we were born here or immigrated from any point on the globe. The genius of America has been the ability to knit together a nation of people of vastly different backgrounds and views. Our diversity is our strength. We all have a stake in the game and the opportunity to participate.
America is a generous and compassionate nation. We don’t view life as a zero- sum game where helping you means less for me. We take care of our most vulnerable and lend a hand to those in need globally.
I get it. We don’t come close to this rosy picture. Racism, sexism, poverty, class, and social ills remain deeply entrenched and will continue to plague us. But the point is that we share these values, continue to strive for them, and see them as the cause for our greatness.
Now, consider Donald Trump’s statements and actions.
He calls the media the “enemy of the people”, labels any report with which he disagrees as “fake news”, tried to ban Muslims from entering the country, denigrates other nations in the most vulgar terms, makes slurs about people of color, sees “good people” among white nationalists, alienates our closest allies, and exacerbates the deepening divisions in our country.
Trump appears to be completely lacking in empathy. Even his occasional inclination to be compassionate is sacrificed for petty retribution. He coarsens everything and everyone he touches. And he lies. He lies repeatedly and unapologetically even in the face of unassailable evidence to the contrary. To Trump, truth is what he says it is. That may be the biggest danger of all.
There can be legitimate differences and opinions on policy. But what we have here is an all-out assault on the fundamental values that have made us who we are. If we sacrifice them to a would-be dictator, not only will we not be great, but we will not be America.
Cecelia Blalock is a business freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles covering key business and governmental issues over the past 30 years. She is based in Savage, MD.