AMERICA’S LOST SOUL, AGAIN
I got back from a couple of weeks of wandering in Mexico just in time to see the scariest moment of the Trump regime. There was Trump entering the halls of the US Congress to give his first speech to the assembled Representatives, Senators, and other selected dignitaries. It was bad enough that he was greeted by most as a legitimate President; it became positively scary when he almost acted like one. It grew even scarier when the media made it seem as if delivery was the equivalent of content.
Thankfully, Trump and his acolytes could only bask in the glow of his performance for a very short time before they were overcome by the real news that there were those in the Trump campaign regularly meeting with Russian officials to learn more about how best to ensure caviar at a good price for Trump hotels. Or, more likely, how best to ensure that the Russians threw in their lot and their leaks in active support of the Trump campaign.
There will be a lot more on this to come. We can only hope that keeping track of the lies they have already told and the need for new ones will occupy Trump and his "America First" buddies every time they try to undo America’s limited progress on critical national and international issues. With Trump imploding as Russians officials celebrate their coup, it would be ironic indeed if right-wing America began to perceive Trump and his merry band of kingmakers as more of a national threat than asylum seekers from Syria and hardworking immigrants in our communities.
However, before offering up a toast to the Russian Ambassador for his contribution to this dysfunction and his cheerful acceptance of whatever the Trump band was peddling, let’s remember that this dangerous game is much more than a reality show. There is a growing likelihood that the Trump campaign bargained away America’s interests to advance self-interest and put the alarmingly ill-prepared and narcissistic Trump in office.
I suspect that those who were then and are now running Trump saw a once in a lifetime opportunity to spread their bile from the honored pulpit of the highest office in the land, instead of the usual caves, churches, and radio waves that regularly spew their filth. After watching their “message” of hate capture Republicans with ease, it was not a big leap to sell their souls to the Russians to capture the grand prize.
Now, after a little more than a month of the Trump regime, the human toll of the campaign’s deceit and America’s folly is beginning to have faces and names associated with it. Nowhere is this more evident than in the faces of undocumented immigrants and their relatives and friends targeted across the nation. We are watching fathers, mothers, and children torn from each other, labeled as threats to all we hold dear. We should be ashamed to our core.
From my vantage point in Mexico, it was easy to see how cruel and unnecessary actions by the Trump regime project onto a larger screen than that limited to America’s shores. As this divide and deport policy plays out, America will lose both gifted immigrants and its soul.
Whenever I talked with Mexicans about what they were witnessing, I could see a ready understanding of a mythical “Jorge” with whom each could identify. For the last ten years, “Jorge” has been the respected owner of a dry cleaning establishment in a small Trump town in the heart of Republican America. Almost everyone in town takes their dirty clothes to Jorge for cleaning; knowing that the price is fair, they will be greeted with a smile, and loose buttons will come back repaired at no cost. Jorge’s two kids were born in the town, and both are good students who play on sports teams sponsored by Jorge. Jorge’s wife is an American citizen. Among other civic activities, Jorge provides meals for poor residents in the town every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas.**
“Jorge” is now being detained in a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility pending deportation proceedings. Surprised customers and friends in Trump town had no idea that Jorge was undocumented. He is their “Jorge,” a wonderful guy and a pillar of the community. He could not be one of “them,” the undocumented immigrants that Trump has told them are a threat to those in Trump towns all across America.
The US immigrant that Mexicans believe in is “Jorge.” The US immigrant that Trump wants us to believe in is “them,” unnamed and faceless immigrants who murder our children, rape our women, and worst of all, take our jobs. It is only when each of us looks around our town that “Jorge” comes alive and becomes the face of immigrants all over the land. Trump has lied to the nation; shame on so many for believing the lie.
It probably doesn’t matter to most folks in America what Mexicans think of America. But when Mexicans are able to disparage our values from a higher perch of moral authority, there must be some lesson for those in the "Make America Great Again" crowd who can open their minds for a minute or two to let just a bit of truth seep in. For a nation to actually be great, a whole lot more than saying so will be required.
When a nation reaches bottom, the only way to go is up. Hope is no longer the answer. Progressives forgot to work to make hope a reality when there was hope. Now, we have to resist and politically destroy those who will take so much from so many who have so little.
**For one of many real life “Jorge” stories, see the following: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/illinois-town-backed-trump-rallies-behind-detained-immigrant-article-1.2984286