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