“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”– Alexis de Tocqueville
Official disclaimer: Those of you who read this blog regularly know how I feel about discussing politics in this forum. You also know that while writing about the law, I have taken shots at both President-Elect Donald J. Trump and his vanquished opponent, Hillary Clinton.
So you can take what I am about to say with a grain of salt or you can ignore it completely. You can agree or disagree. You can make your opinion known in the comments section below, or you can keep quiet. That’s your choice.
And ultimately that’s what this post is about. Choice. Or more specifically, the choice Americans had to make when we went to the polls on Tuesday.
In America these are dark days, indeed
To put all of this in its proper context, I’ll start by saying that I am a first-generation American. I am first-generation American whose father was forced to flee from his own country — a former Communist regime — as a political refugee.
So I am a patriot. I love this country. Under normal circumstances, my faith in America is unshakable. But I must admit, my faith has taken a beating lately. And on Wednesday morning, it almost crumbled. Almost. But not quite.
I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling ashamed, embarrassed, disgusted, angry, and sad. All at once.
But please don’t misunderstand. I was not upset about the outcome. I was still upset about the choice I was forced to make when I cast my ballot. I say “still,” because I was angry about the election before I went to the polls.
Those who don’t learn from (American) history….
In the days, weeks and months leading up to the presidential election eight years ago, many Americans were screaming for change. They wanted anyone in the Oval Office — as long it wasn’t anyone remotely resembling George W. Bush.
Then they voted accordingly.
And look what that got us. A deeply divided country. Heightened racial tensions. A stagnant economy. A pitiful attempt at universal healthcare. A diminished presence on the world stage. And for the most part, an angry, uninformed, uneducated, hyper-partisan electorate forced this year to choose between two of the worst presidential candidates in the history of the United States.
And look what that got us.
The lowest common denominator and the height of tyranny…
To quote from the label on the back of one of my favorite micro-brews, “We believe that pandering to the lowest common denominator represents the height of tyranny — a virtual form of keeping the consumer barefoot and stupid.”
From the moment he announced his candidacy, Donald J. Trump did just that. And the “lowest common denominator” — that angry, uneducated, uninformed, hyper-partisan electorate — responded accordingly. Congratulations, America. You did great!
That Vladimir Putin was one of the first, if not the first foreign leader to congratulate President-Elect Donald J. Trump, speaks volumes.
That a terrorist organization and a sworn enemy of this country has allegedly told the president-elect that everything will be peachy — as long as we pull everyone out of Afghanistan — also speaks volumes.
Clearly our country is in great hands.
And don’t you dare tell me, “at least he’s better than Hillary Clinton.” I really, really, really do not want to hear it. That argument didn’t hold water before the election, and it certainly doesn’t have any merit now.
To quote Alexis de Tocqueville…
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start prattling on about “getting the government we deserve,” a post-election sentiment often attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville. But I will end with this: if you honestly believe that President Donald J. Trump will make good on his promise to “Make America Great Again,” you are sadly, sadly mistaken. And that’s putting it nicely.
You see it is not up to him — or any elected leader, for that matter — to restore this country’s greatness. That is up to each and every one of us.
As de Tocqueville said, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”