A vision for America

Trump has a vision of America. It says the real Americans have been under assault — economically and, mainly, culturally — by “others.” From outside, and from within. That there was some halcyon greatness lost. Mainly, frankly, it was whiteness. It’s white supremacy in all but name.

This vision, David Brooks has written, “contradicts the traditional American idea in every particular. In fact, Trump’s national story is much closer to the Russian national story . . . an alien ideology he’s trying to plant on our soil. Trump’s vision is radically anti-American.”

It opposes a vision rooted in our founding ideals. “American exceptionalism” is a contentious phrase. But America is indeed unique among nations in being constituted on a set of ideals rather than on blood-and-soil.

They’re embodied in the Declaration of Independence. Which, remember, was addressed to the world. Because our founders saw this nation as forging a new path for all humanity into a brighter future. They were looking forward — not backward to make something “great again.”

What were those ideals? Democratic self-government, all people being equal in their freedom to pursue happiness, and in their diversity all coming together to build our city upon a hill. As expressed too in our national motto — e pluribus unum — out of many, one. An ideal of openness and generosity.

The Declaration said “all men,” not all people, but that’s what was meant. And meant fully and sincerely, despite some writers being slaveowners. No humans could have transcended all the bounds of their time and world all in one leap. Yet their leap was great indeed.

It did transcend their consanguinity, in their recognition that the nation they launched would grow beyond it. One of the Declaration’s stated grievances against the British was their impeding the naturalization of newcomers to America!

So theirs was indeed a vision for the future. And the America they set in motion did, through the years, ever more fully come to realize their vision. To realize its motto. Uniquely a magnet for people coming from all over to enrich this nation with all their variety.

Brooks again: “This American idea is not a resentful prejudice; it’s a faith and a dream.” And Trump’s vision, he says, “is an attack on that dream.”

This is our choice, standing at an epochal historical crossroads. Will we follow Trump’s dark path — leading to everything our founders actually rebelled against? Or resume our journey along the brighter path they marked out?

But how many Americans today still see that path? Have that vision in their hearts?

Brooks ends by quoting the black poet Langston Hughes, writing at a time when the Declaration’s equality was much further from fulfillment:

America never was America to me

And yet I swear this oath

America will be!

2 Responses to “A vision for America”

  1. Doug Weston-Kolarik Says:

    My God. How wrong you can be. The founding fathers and the words of the constitution had everything to do with equality, yes. But equality among all people except blacks! Their visions saw equality among white people, brown people, asian people. But definitely not black people. These leaders of our country had no intention of allowing blacks to be a part of any kind of meaningful societal, institution or function. You’re blowing in a misguided delusional wind my friend.

    Dr. D.C. Weston-Kolarik, Professor

    On Mon, Sep 2, 2019, 4:38 PM The Rational Optimist wrote:

    > rationaloptimist posted: “Trump has a vision of America. It says the real > Americans have been under assault — economically and, mainly, culturally — > by “others.” From outside, and from within. That there was some halcyon > greatness lost. Mainly, frankly, it was whiteness. It’s whit” >

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    The vile racism of this comment shows exactly what I was writing about.
    It is also historically ignorant. It’s noteworthy that it was the REPUBLICAN party that fought hard for equal rights for black former slaves in the 1860s. How low the party has sunk.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s