Make America Aspirational Again

President Trump has unleashed a wave of negative, aggressive, and selfish sentiments that have – among many other things – discredited the aspirational aspects of American democracy.

In his short tenure as President, Trump has managed to unravel, unwind, and untangle the quilt of good will that was America.

America was one complicated quilt. That quilt was (loosely) held together mostly on a general (immeasurable) consensus – across social, ethnic, and cultural lines – that the unfinished experiment that is the U.S.A. can best be pursued with high aspirations based on the (imperfect) thoughts, actions, and writings of men and women that have preceded us:

> A unique blend of aspirational guarantees of inalienable rights and the right to association; i.e.: simultaneously respecting the individual and encouraging community while seeking personal well being and the common good.

Trump has managed to diminish us to a country with a leadership that is – by any measure – corrupt, incompetent, and looks out mostly (if not exclusively) for that one third of voters that blindly supports him and the business interests of a few. Trump’s unholy alliance with so called Republicans has gained political power and is instituting a new America that I simply cannot be proud of. Instead, I am ashamed. Instead I am embarrassed. Instead, I have chosen to #RESIST.

I could flee. “America: love it or leave it”, some would say. But no, I am choosing to stay. I live here. I am not going anywhere.

I already fled one country as a child political refugee. I am not fleeing again. I will live out my life in this imperfect, dysfunctional, and increasingly racist country, acknowledging that we are no better than any other country, and recognizing that any dreams of being an aspiration and a model of democracy for others is gone – for the moment.

We have become one of many nations, no longer the nation being looked to by those in repressive governments as the nation to emulate. Enslaved, mistreated, and persecuted people throughout the world may still look to come to America, but no longer seeking a place to look up to, to replicate back in the ‘home country’.  Rather, Trump’s America has become simply a place where economic well-being may be sought, sure. However, nada mas. Nothing more. No longer the promised land. No longer the land that our ‘home country’ should aspire to be… Simply just another land where we can make a buck, feed our family, and muddle through life consuming consuming consuming.

No longer can I say I love America. At least not the America of the moment. It just happens to be where I live.

I cannot – will not – support this President’s America. And I will not sit idle by while he and his cronies rampage, dismantle, and abuse the institutions, agencies, and structures that form the backbone to an aspirational democracy.

I cannot be supportive of or enthusiastically cheer America while we have a President that personally attacks freedom of the press, destroys the independence of the judiciary by arbitrarily seeking to stack the number of appointed judges, and disrespects the men and women that have committed to serve in government in places like the FBI and CIA – and the EPA, HUD, NIH, etc. etc. etc.

And of course, I can’t support a president that so blatantly trashes immigrants, Muslims, the disabled, and the LGBTQ community.

And of course, I can’t support a president that shows no empathy for the needy and conducts foreign policy like Rambo.

And that is why I #RESIST. Because I firmly believe that we can regain aspirational national pride in who we are, recalibrate our internationally aspirational leadership, and rediscover our aspirational consensus to do good by being good.

(Have you helped a friend register to vote? If not, please consider doing so today.)


Everybody does it! So why are we beating up on Trump?

We have had presidents that were slave owners. We have had presidents that are crooks. And we have certainly had presidents that were womanizers.

So why should we hold Trump to any higher standard? No, it is not a higher standard to which we are holding Trump accountable. It is the standard applied to anyone who happen to be president!

I am blessed with having known people across the political spectrum. It pains me to see the moral and ethical calisthenics some of my friends are doing to excuse their support for Trump. (I know these same friends accuse me of doing moral and ethical calisthenics myself to justify my support of the Democratic Party, given their stand on abortion. That single issue has so marred, clouded, and seems to be the sole determinant of the distaste of many for the Democrats and their blind support of this President.)

He came in to clean the swamp and has infected it instead with countless appointees who have had to resign because of ethical improprieties…. Yes, this has happened before. But, never to this extent.

This guy is not leading a revolution – he is leading a devolution, the indiscriminate dismantling of a bureaucracy without a strategy as to what should replace it. Surged earth policy. 

Except. Except that this disruption of bureaucracy, dismantling of regulations, and the lack of governing is creating a window of opportunity for Trumpistas opportunists to reap the benefit of chaos – take the money and run – in hopes that by the time they get found out it will be too late and they and their children will have enjoyed their yachts, mansions, and golf courses for years.

One thing is to compromise with imperfect leaders in the political sphere. Another is to blindly support morally corrupt leaders because they are taking policy actions we agree with. As much charity as I wish I had to not be reactionary to his ranting, they are toxic to our collective soul.

For example, his ranting about past administrations regarding immigration. Obama worked with the Latino community to focus deportation on criminals. Yes, plenty of mistakes were made deporting some good folks. But there was never any doubt that the policy – and message – was clear and unambiguous: Let’s get the bad hombres out of here… But, Mr. Trump’s approach is dark, mean-spirited, and divisive. His focusing on the MS-13 crimes as an excuse to build his wall in exchange for a path to citizenship for Dreamers is sickening… Of course we need border security! But, remember, you build a 30 foot wall and the next week Home Depot will be selling 31 ft ladders…

Also: Why oh why oh why must he insist on referencing back to Obama and the Clintons?!? He is President now; start acting as such! Defend your policies on their merits – if you can. Defend your demeanor, personality, crassness and crudeness – and in thus doing show your true color: You and your Trumpistas have sold your soul for a marginally better performing stock market which benefits mostly the affluent; taken measures to advance your politically convenient pro-birth stance; and the warped thinking that immigrants are bad people.

Within the short span of one year, this man has degenerated the United States of America into nothing more than a mere economic entity focusing exclusively on the transactional functions of government. Long lost are the aspirational dreams of a nation, what could be, how we can form a better union, how we can be more empathetic and civil with each other.

He has single handily taken us into the gutter of ugly politics. It is our role to rise. To reclaim our dreams.

So we must #RESIST. And vote in November!