“She destroyed too many good things in society, and created too many bad ones, then left a social and moral vacuum in which the selfishly rich and unimaginatively fortunate could too easily destroy still more of what they don’t need and can’t see that everyone else does need.”
How easy it is to overlook moral responsibility.
A lot of presidential executive order type shit is happening which, taken one by one, represent some viable policy discussions which should happen … but as a whole … reflect we are now in a struggle for the soul of America – a struggle for our moral core.
I began believing this when I wrote my Trump Foreign Policy piece back on November 19th 2016 but it was the other day when I read a fabulous piece on WarontheRocks called “The Struggle for the soul of American Foreign Policy has begun” that I began finding the words to shape the struggle we now face.
Let us be clear on one thing.
One incredibly important thing.
Our President does not appear to have a soul of integrity & dignity only a core of ‘win at all and any costs’ nor does he appear to believe America has a soul other than a platitude of ‘patriotism’ <which he seems to think is made up of solely of military, law & order and power> nor does he appear to be centered on any moral imperative beyond ‘winning’ <and looking impressive & strong>.
This, simplistically, is a discussion between “the win justifies the means” versus “the means justifies the win.”
In all candor I am not a bleeding heart liberal nor do I espouse mamby pamby milquetoast spineless jelly fish behavior. I believe there is a time to stand with strength, there is a time to be competitive, there are winners and losers and not everyone should get a trophy and that being nice isn’t an imperative with regard to how you play the game or be competitive.
How you play the game matters.
And I can almost 99% guarantee the American Symbolic Chief, or our President, only cares about how you look while you play the game <the ‘trappings as it were> and whether you win.
I have several proof points with regard to his lack of soul and moral imperative but the one I go to is the one he has consistently espoused “I am open to waterboarding <torture> because they are playing with different rules than we are and are killing us.”
This is “so if they are cheating, we can cheat to” logic <I am sure his military school would be proud of that logic>.
He uses this logic … well … on everything and with everyone.
This is not some dilemma created by the ravages of war.
There is no dilemma.
Your competition does not dictate how you decide to play the game … you decide how you want to play the game.
Don’t like that example?
How about stealing someone’s oil as compensation for having sent soldiers to fight.
This is kind of like saying “we sent police to your home to protect you and they will take something from your home as they leave because you owe it to them.”
“We should have kept the oil when we got out,” Trump said about the U.S. involvement in Iraq. “Had we taken the oil, we wouldn’t have had ISIS.”
Pillaging is illegal <violates the Annex to the Hague Convention of 1907 on the Laws and Customs of War and the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War>.
And, yet, our multi-millionaire trying to play being a President insists it wouldn’t break international law.
Muir: You’ve heard the critics who say that would break all international law, taking the oil. But I wanna get to the words …
Trump: Wait, wait, can you believe that? Who are the critics who say that? Fools.
Muir: Let, let me …
Trump: I don’t call them critics. I call them fools.
Morals? What morals?
Soul? A soul empty of anything but “I believe what I believe” and “what I want is what is right.”
That constitutes a lack of soul.
But let’s get back to the soul of America just so we are clear.
When we discuss building a wall on our southern border we should be reminded that everyone who sails into New York City passes by the Statue of Liberty with these words on it:
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The New Colossus By Emma Lazarus
“your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
These are some powerful words. Those are some words you can imagine would find a nice warm home in a soul.
I absolutely hear the anti-immigration people loud and clear … and while I hear Trump and his wall and “a country has to have borders” I would argue he is being simplistically tangible and that he would be better served, as America would be also, if we approached this viable argument by attempting to construct a stronger mental/ideological national construct so that more people are likeminded in attitude <beyond simply coming to America to build prosperity>.
By the way.
Trump is going to be trapped by his ‘welcome if you are productive’ <money is everything> crap in that the criteria for citizenship is not whether you create wealth but rather whether you embrace the constitution, the idea of America and the freedoms it embodies. His ideology would suggest you could be a terrorist but if you are a productive terrorist who maybe owns a small business … well … you are welcome <but he is not smart enough to recognize that trap>.
While some social lawyerly types will most likely come out of the woodwork and condemn my suggestions on how we could build a stronger ideological construct bear with the thinking:
- I wrote this thought back in April 2010 … but … bring back the Pledge of Allegiance <pre-Eisenhower version> as a school behavior. It was Eisenhower who added “one nation under God” … eliminate it and have all kids in all schools say the pledge of allegiance. What was made my man can be unmade by man. Let’s reestablish some national civic pride in who and what we are … and let people have the freedom to believe in whatever God they want to believe in.
- Make English the national language. What the hell. Why not? Half of American born citizens speak crappy English so why not make it mandatory that all 330 million people have to speak crappy English if you want to be an American citizen.
- Making voting mandatory. It is one of the greatest privileges we, as a country, offers. If you want to live in America than you must activate one of your greatest privileges.
I have a couple more but this gets the point across. America was born of immigrants and we open our arms to those who seek to embrace not just prosperity opportunity but more importantly to be able to live within the freedoms we offer. If you want to live here you want to live within that construct.
I feel compelled to mention that while I advocate what I just stated I am also fairly confident that a fairly significant number of American born multi-generation Americans would fail to pass that test I just outlined>
Terrorism and immigrants.
Study after study after study <I know President Trump doesn’t read> states, unequivocally, an immigrant is less likely to commit a crime than a nonimmigrant American citizen.
Study after study after study <I know President Trump does not read> states, unequivocally, you are more likely to be terrorized or shot by an American citizen than an immigrant.
But … you know what?
Smarter people than I have tried telling people all the facts but either no one listens, or no one cares or everyone is just too scared that immigrant-driven terrorism to believe it.
And when you are scared, for any reason … valid or invalid … you can decide to do some fairly unreasonable actions.
This non-dilemma is captured in this recent, simple, comment exchange online:
ISIS are mediaeval barbarians.
And so we have to beat them by adopting barbarism ourselves, otherwise barbarism will win……
er…..just run that past me again…
What would your thoughts be if someone in your family had been killed by ISIS? It’s easy sitting in the comfort of your own armchair to take such a moral high ground
I am reminded that it was Plato who suggested democracies would eventually descend into dictatorships as a result of the need to ‘protect freedoms’ within the democracy.
We need to think about this and think clearly.
The truth is that we everyday schmucks face shit decisions like this almost every day in our jobs.
If I do not do this I will lose my job <and how will I support my family>.
If I do not play by the same rules those cheaters are playing I will never get that promotion <and how will I ever pay for my kid’s education>
If I protect this idea I may lose my job <and how will I survive without food on the table>.
This is not easy shit.
Freedoms, especially American freedoms, are an incredible gift which not many other citizens have. We often overlook their infinite value as we assess Life from an individualistic survival standpoint.
And you know what? It is fair that we do so.
And you know what? It is times like this where we everyday schmucks, who may be smart but recognize that there are a shitload of people out there smarter than us and able to see the ‘long game’ and the repercussions of decision better than us, need to trust someone else.
I lean on the words of Benjamin Franklin:
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”
Do I want to get blown up by some ignorant asshole believing they are making some statement that will change the arc of history? No. of course not.
Am I willing to get blown up knowing that I never sacrificed the greater good, that maybe I touched upon the best version of who I could be as a person and that maybe, just maybe, in my death the people who remain will see the value in Life is in how you lived it and not just in what you achieved? Yeah. I would.
America is an idea.
America is an idea lived out by people.
America is an idea lived out by people who embrace the soul of the idea of which America is founded upon.
With our new President I recognize we are now in a struggle for the soul of America – a struggle for our moral core.
I am personally determined to take up this struggle in any way I can … and anywhere. That, to me, is the patriotic thing to do.
And I will do whatever I can in my little corner of the world. I will fight back by showcasing individual norms which I believe should help guide societal norms … better than the ones our current President offers.
With that I ask … where is John Kasich, where is Mitt Romney, where is George Bush, where is Condeleeza Rice, where is Bill Clinton, where is even Ted Cruz <who I quasi-despise>?
Where are the people who do not exist in little corners of the world and who can stand up for the moral imperatives which make America great?
We need some people to stand up and hold our moral compass up high so that we can rediscover the soul of America and set forth toward the North star.