I have taken a bit of a break from politics over the last few weeks. Doing so is necessary, I think, for anyone engaged in activism. Resisting what Donald Trump and the Republican party are trying to do to our country is a marathon, not a sprint, and being all-resistance, all the time is a recipe for burnout. So I have taken the better part of the last month to step back and focus on other things that are important to me. It has been incredibly refreshing, and I feel energized and ready to return to the fight.
Which is good, because there is so much to fight for right now. The Senate GOP is working like hell to pass their "health care" bill. Mike Pence and Kris Kobach are ramping up their efforts to suppress the vote in the name of "electoral integrity." And the egomaniac in the White House is degrading America's reputation and disrespecting his office with every new tweet.
But to begin, I wanted to answer this question:
You know, I really try not the be that guy who says, every time a Trump says something, "think about how Fox News would have reacted is Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton/<insert Democrat here> said that." But sometimes I just can't help myself. Can you imagine how the right would have reacted if, say, Malia Obama had decided to hop online this July 4th and tweet out, "Out of curiosity, what exactly are healthcare-stealing, poor-hating, anti-women, right-wing fascists celebrating today?" I mean, it's a moot point, because Malia Obama has more class at 19 than 39-year-old Donald Trump Jr. could ever hope to achieve. But I digress.
I'd like to answer Mr. Trump's question. But first, let's see if I'm qualified to do so. Do I fit his criteria?
- "Big Govt" - If by this he means people that believe that it's the role of the government to provide protection for the vulnerable among us while also putting checks in place on the powerful, then I definitely qualify.
- "opprressive taxation" - Cringe-worthy misspelling aside, I'm guessing Trump is referring here to those who believe that the wealthiest among us have a responsibility to contribute more to our society and to help those who have less. Count me in.
- "anti 2A" - While I think banning firearms is unrealistic, I strongly support the strictest of regulations, background checks, and limits on gun ownership. So if believing a regular citizen should have to be mentally stable in order to own a gun and that said gun shouldn't be military-grade technology makes me "anti 2A," so be it.
- "left wing socialists" - This one's easy. I'm a left-wing progressive and proud of it. As for "socialist," I'm a Bernie Sanders supporter and a fan of Scandinavian-style social democracy. So take that for what you will.
So if Mr. Trump was asking a legitimate question in his poorly-spelled, rambling tweet, I guess I'm as good a person as any to provide an answer.
On this past Independence Day, I celebrated what I'm guessing is the same thing Mr. Trump and his family celebrated: these United States of America. Because, believe it or not, left-wing progressives love our country every bit as fervently as our conservative counterparts. The idea that "the other" can't possibly want what is best for our country (a trap that, let's be honest, those of us on the liberal side of the spectrum have fallen into ourselves) is at the heart of so much of the divisiveness in politics, and it's simply not true.
Al Franken wrote in one of his books that, "We love America just as much as [conservatives] do. But in a different way. You see, they love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow.” I both love and hate this quote. On one hand, I feel it gives far too little credit to the conservative point of view, implying that it's all emotion and no intellect. But I do think it highlights a major discrepancy in how the two sides see our country.
The right wants to "make America great again," implying that her true greatness has passed us by and that, by returning things to how they were, that glory can be recaptured. The left wants "progress," recognizing that the "great" past wasn't all that great for so many of us and that America's true potential lies in providing a level playing field to all her people. Both sides see America as a country that can be so much better than it is today. We simply differ on how to make it happen.
And that, Mr. Trump, is what I celebrated on the Fourth of July. The fact that we live in a country where people are able to have differing viewpoints. A country where people on either side of the political divide can freely march in the streets to resist the actions of their government. A country where I'm able to run a site like this and you are able to read it.
America, for all her flaws, is a country worth every march, every call, every blog post, and every vote. Not everyone can say that about their home, and that is something worth celebrating, not just on July 4th, but every day of the year.