President Trump’s signature messaging is MAGA (Make America Great Again) — let’s not even talk about KAG (Keep America Great) since that’s fallen away. We all know the nationalist roots behind that messaging. At an initial glance, it seems inspiring and one of the reasons he won the 2016 US Presidential election.
There was a promise made to all Americans that many have not heard in a long time or even their lifetimes. Part of that promise is patriotism putting America first above all else. The sheer promise and making Americans feel unified under this banner of ‘patriotism’ is great. But, the problem with that banner is it only applies when it suits the President. Additionally, it has morphed into a nationalist agenda that benefits one ethnic group above others.
Recently, reports surfaced that Russia had put bounties on American soldiers’ heads in Afghanistan. For any President who receives such information, an immediate alarm bell should go off. Thirty days later, President Trump has yet to comment on this report or mention an action that he wishes to take. How alarming!
We also know that Covid-19 continues to rage across the world. Depending on one’s political affiliation, the stats are debated. Some claim that more than 4 million people have become infected in the US. For all practical purposes, I will reference Covid-19 statistics from Johns Hopkins University. And, again, the President has not advocated that people where a face mask even though public health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have argued that masks save lives. The only time the President advocated for wearing was during a photo op at Walter Reed. Such neglect and absence of mind and attention to the American people sends a terrible message to the people — convenience and narcissism. The President should set a positive example — although in this case the example set was a bad one.
Despite the raging Covid-19 pandemic and the question about masks, America lost one of its greats, Mr. John Lewis — a civil rights icon. The late representative stood for American values and advocated for equality. His death came at a time when Black Lives Matters protests take place over all the world. In particular, the city of Portland has been protesting for more than 60 days. Instead of calling for unity, the President sent federal troops to defend federal property.
Federal property deserves protection from the Federal Government. Equally important, vandalism does not solve any problem or advance any cause. Instead, it inflames tensions and causes those who can react to react. We have seen such a reaction from the President who prefers to steam roll into cities and take control under the guise of law and order. Unfortunately, these actions amount to abuse of power and enrage people more even when the mayor and other elected officials ask them to leave.
Again and again, we can see the recurring theme that President Trump uses situations to his benefit while claiming patriotism. None of these actions have benefited the American people to move forward and save their lives. Now is the time to reflect on the meaning of patriotism and what it means for each of us.