The Mount Rushmore Celebration

Fireworks display over Mt Rushmore on July 3, 2020

Unlike most Democrats who have already decided that they’re voting for Joe Biden, (like me,) I chose to watch the entire celebration including the speeches by Kristi Noem, the fetching governor of South Dakota, and David L. Bernhardt, the corpulent Secretary of the Interior, and President Trump.  I feel like it is my duty as an American not to ignore what is going on in all parts of the political battle for the soul of America.

OK, I’m a sucker for fireworks. 

And pageantry.  And patriotism.  Having been to Mt. Rushmore a couple of times, I’m also a fan of the truly amazing feat of engineering and artistry and perseverance it represents. Good God can you imagine the political minefield that had to be maneuvered to get that thing built?  All politics aside, you’d have to be mad, truly mad, no, I mean angry mad, to want to destroy it.

Trump’s speech was, honestly, one of the best I’ve ever heard from him. 

He obviously had some really good speechwriters work it up —  the kind of speechwriters who meticulously study every line, make sure that their facts are correct, who get the phrasing and the high points and the low points and the soft bits and the gnarly bits all sorted out  and structured so the speaker can really punch it! It was everything that you don’t usually hear in a Trump speech that he usually delivers extemporaneously, “winging it,” as the Prez likes to do: it was polished, professional, on point, inspirational.

 It was, actually, an inspiring walk down memory lane, briefly, pedantically and accurately explaining why the four icons carved in stone on the mountain behind him — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt — are so important to America.  They are the creators of the American experiment, and we’re still in the throes of testing its veracity.

For once, in his tortured presidency, Trump stuck to the script.

He stayed on message, delivering an inspiring speech that actually made me, a liberal Democrat, proud to be an American, just like the old Alabama song says.

It still didn’t make me a believer in Trump, of course,

because I realize that a good speech doesn’t change a man, and this spectacle of wrapping himself in the flag and claiming to be the one true protector of American Heritage and Freedom shines a klieg light on the cynicism of this psycho that inhabits the White House.

I know the things he’s really working on, the destruction of environmental protections, the opening of federal lands for oil drilling, the defunding of research and monitoring that prepare us for hurricanes, the relaxation of protections for our waterways, the… well it’s a long list… Anyway, all this is far outside the confines of a wonderful, patriotic speech and exhilarating fireworks.  But, Democrats, listen to me now, and heed my words.

This event was kind of like what you do as a parent when your kids are misbehaving because they don’t feel safe in their own home.  It was the same as distracting your children from the reality of, for example, getting kicked out on the street because you can’t pay the rent, by inviting the neighbors over to gather on the back porch to drink cheap beer, with the kids taking turns sitting on the ice cream maker, as Uncle Ralph and cousin Filbert turn the crank on the ice-cream maker.

So, thanks, Mr. Trump, for a thrilling event to take our minds off the horror of daily reality,

with some really groovy fireworks and patriotic songs from all the popular artists who, I doubt will be suing somebody – you, South Dakota, who knows? — for using their songs, probably without permission.  But that’s just petty, isn’t it?  Do musicians actually need to get paid for their work?

Trumps campaign for re-election was laid out, plain as day, by this event. 

He has painted a target on Biden and the rest of the Democratic party as the villains who are trying to destroy America by allowing our history to be re-written buy the very people who lost the contentious battle for this continent and all efforts to divide it or separate it.  That includes, of course, the “indigenous people,” the Confederacy, the Mexicans, Spanish, English, yadda yadda yadda. Trump is painting Democrats as the demons, similar to those who would have allowed the Confederacy to divide America into two separate nations, which would have turned us into another version of Europe, with separate countries always at each other’s throats.  According to Trump, Democrats are the perpetrators, the funders, the supporters of all the protests, all the “Black Lives Matter” stuff, all the folks tearing down monuments, and the Indians wanting all their land back. He actually coined a new phrase, the “liberal Fascists,” who are, seen through to the Trumpian lens, orchestrating all the protests we’ve seen over the past weeks, trying to rewrite history and demonize the founding fathers. “Liberal Fascist” is an oxymoron, delivered by true moron.  Here’s why:

Definitions From Dictionary.com:

Fascist: 

a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

Liberal:

1.  favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.

2. (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.

3.  of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism, especially the freedom of the individual and governmental guarantees of individual rights and liberties.

4.  favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.

This rally was a big “fuck YOU” to Covid-19.

To the fear of it, to the sensible, logical response of protecting yourself from getting it by wearing a mask and staying away from crowds.  A new term emerged:  the “cancel culture.”  I get it.  Truly, I do.  But, Jeeeeezus.

What could be more cynical than this, coming from the mouth of your President, in a moment when the pandemic is spreading out of control in many areas of the country. All in the name of patriotism and celebration of liberty.  Oh. My. God.  Dead is Dead.  It’s not freedom.  It’s dead.

Like I said in the first paragraph, I’m a sucker for fireworks and pageantry and patriotism.  But it is events like this, and messages like this, delivered by the guy that occupies the Bully Pulpit, President Trump, that will lead to the death, sickness, economic destruction and a future that is the antithesis of what he SAYS he wants for America: to be great again.

So, this is what the Democratic party is up against. 

How can we respond to the changes that are occurring in society, and still maintain the ideals that shaped our society?  How can we admit responsibility for the inequities in civil rights, the institutional and personal racism that persist even though we try desperately to root it out? How can we acknowledge the suppression of large swaths of our citizenry because of the colors of their skin, while respecting the massive shift toward universal freedom and equality that was ushered in by the founders of our country?

 It’s a process. 

Even though the U.S. Constitution began as a flawed document, it was levels of magnitude above any other description of a government that protected individual citizens and limited the power of the rich upper class. An idea such as this had never happened before on Earth, and it was due to the bravery, intellect and creativity of men like Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln and Roosevelt, that this country still exists today.

The ideal of universal equality doesn’t happen overnight.  It doesn’t automatically occur because of laws passed, even though the fact that laws are passed which promote justice for all indicate that changes are occurring in the right direction.

People are going to act up. Protest. Tear things down. Test their “unalienable rights.”

Are these rights real?  Do they apply to black people, who were once considered 3/5ths of a person? I say yes.

Should we have statues in public parks and spaces celebrating the losers of the war that wanted to destroy the United States and allow slavery to persist?  No, we shouldn’t.

Should we cease to admire our founding fathers, Washington and Jefferson because they owned slaves? I think not. If for no other reason, simply because of what they achieved, in the context of the times in which they lived.  Their cognitions about the rights of man were truly revolutionary, compared to anything that had come before them in human history.

What they accomplished in the formation of the American republic is truly remarkable. 

So, give them a break, for Chrissake. Don’t try to judge what was happening in 1776 by what’s happening in 2020. If it wasn’t for our Founding Fathers, despite their flaws, we’d all be in a world of hurt, black, white, brown and tawny alike.

Mr. Biden, you need to get on top of this. 

You’re being painted with a toxic brush. It’s no time to be complacent. Remember what happened to Hillary.  You MUST contradict the Trumpian point of view, with your own clear message of patriotism and the respect and reverence you hold for the founders of our country.  You must clarify your view of America in the coming decades as we evolve into a society of true equality, where racism is something that only exists in the dustbin of history.

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