TRUMP THE PATRIOT: NOT

 

Donald Trump wants to present himself as a “patriot” who is making America great again so that Americans can feel patriotic again. In fact, all of Trump’s actions diminish America. Shouldn’t Americans want to believe that the world recognizes America has the best health care system, the greatest fast trains, the highest ideals for improving the lives of all who live in the community, the safest air and safest water, is the best guardian of natural resources, all, and many more, achievable goals the Trump Administration seem to find unexciting if not actively repugnant.

Ever since WWII America has been the leader not just in “one on one” bilateral relations with other countries in the world the way Trump, the dealmaker, says  is how he intends to do business,  but in putting together and leading alliances that increase the security and prosperity of all their members. That is what America has been doing until now, with failures as well as successes, but garnering  tremendous primacy and respect.  In the 21st century picking off a country here and there in deal making will achieve little or nothing, except to destroy that respect.

Trump is squandering a priceless American treasure: throughout our history we have presented ideals that are aspirations for all mankind. Nepal in the early 60s, still barely accessible over mountain passes, had a US Information Agency office where its Nepalese director was telling visitors, including this writer, “Lincoln, he is our hero too.” Our national government is the essential element in this leadership and the pride in “public service” of those who work for it within our elected institutions  has brought to all Americans a patriotic  pride in admirable actions that have benefitted both us and the world. Trump apparently feels pride and patriotism that his billionaire cohorts can find new ways to enrich themselves – not the nation.

When President Trump says he will make American “great” again I imagine he would include the beauty of America as part of its greatness. Americans have been singing “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies” for a long time and sense the times we sing this anthem as thrilling moments that bind us together.  We can almost see “the amber waves of grain.” Maybe we won’t be able to see them everywhere when Trump realizes his despicable idea of building a wall along the almost 2,000 mile border between Mexico and America. He is not making America “great”, he is making it ugly. Maybe he wants to see the wall as an icon of the America that binds us together, an America that rejects rather than welcomes – “America the Ugly.” What could be more hideous than that unnatural tall dark wall snaking across our beautiful county, reminding us perhaps of the  wall that separated East and West Germany during the cold war, or the walls in Jerusalem today. Trump seems to hope that this symbol of hatred and rejection will become real in the hearts of Americans, immeasurably diminishing us.

–Elizabeth Spiro Clark

   February 21, 2017

The March:  Agent of change and changed perceptions

The Women’s March (WMW) exceeded all expectations, starting in Washington DC, where according to New York Times estimates, the crowds were three times as large as the previous day’s Inaugural crowds. Globally, there were close to 700 separate marches, rallies and gatherings.

Numbers were important in assessing the impact of the March, but not in way that a Trump would think winners and losers by the numbers.

The size of the marches, as a historical event, most of all were an unforgettable visualization and for participants direct experience of what humanity is – the power of fellow feeling and interconnectedness.  That message could not have come at a better time, just as Trump demonstrated he disconnects himself from anyone but himself. In an official visit to the CIA the day after the March Trump could not even muster up fellow feeling in those who work to protect America’s security. All he could express was cheap rage at the press for underestimating the size of his inaugural crowds. If anything the media wasn’t factual enough about how much greater the crowds were at the March than at the Inauguration. Trump is powerless to make his crowds bigger and, increasingly, to fool people that the crowds are bigger. Continue reading “The March:  Agent of change and changed perceptions”

Developer In Chief

People have been asking me what I think about Ben Carson as the nominee to be Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It’s not just family, friends, and acquaintances who ask this question, but allies—people who work in the field.

But can I admit something? This question—what do I think about Ben Carson as nominee for HUD Secretary? —is an especially hard question for me to answer. Sure, I have set of pat answers that I’ve been giving people. I express skepticism because the nominee has so little prior experience with issues of housing and community development or with public administration. I talk about my displeasure that someone who recently and publicly called fair housing a failed socialist plot would be at the helm of a federal agency charged with enforcing fair housing. I talk about my and my commitment to fight for quality, affordable housing for low-income people; for equitable, vibrant, and sustainable communities; and about how these commitments stem from our larger vision of racial and economic justice. And I express my hope that all of these values remain a core part of HUD under the new administration, regardless of whoever becomes the head of the agency.

But underneath my answers, I admit to being uncomfortable, and even stifled with my own talking points. Ben Carson seems like a nice enough man, but my real feeling is that he is probably what they called a “Chamcha” in India under British rule—conveying a person without a backbone who facilitates the erosion of society by being uncritical and instead a pawn of the empire. I hope I am wrong. Continue reading “Developer In Chief”