America has always been a land divided. It’s a land of boundless opportunity and timeless prejudices. It’s a land where unbridled optimism and silver linings are constantly at odds with irrational bigotry and animosity, and mulish pride is so often mistaken for ardent patriotism.
Sure, that’s not a fantastic sell to aspiring Americans. Yet it’s these conflicting ideals and constantly evolving principles that have helped forge our collective identity. America’s not perfect, because it was never meant to be. It’s a melting pot that beckons us all – fusing the good, the bad and the ugly into one exceptional, living democratic experiment.
That’s why Americans get so obnoxiously patriotic on the 4th of July – and it’s why expats like me always book the day off work, wrangle up our loved ones for a rainy BBQ and drive the neighbours batty with barn-stomping country songs and dodgy, mail-order firework displays. It’s a celebration of where we as a people have been. Yet more important still, it’s a celebration of where we’re headed.
But right now, America is headed nowhere fast – and that’s precisely why I’m not going to bother this year.
Let’s face it: we’ve tossed the hallmark traits of our young society in the backseat and handed the keys to a complete and utter lunatic. And although Donald Trump is merely symptomatic of a far deeper ailment, his tyrannical attempts to transform our dynamic melting pot into a flavourless autocracy cannot go unanswered.
While you and I are resting our heads, he’s inciting violence against journalists and encouraging bigotry like a petty teenager on social media. While we’re hard at work, he’s signing executive orders stripping away the rights of our friends and neighbours – and while we’re caring for our children, he’s parting us down the middle with half-baked travel bansdevised on exclusive putting greens.
Every day, the President of the United States spits on the illustrious legacy of his predecessors by taking another swipe at the fragile freedoms and embryonic alliances that coexist to make America great.
That’s why he’s got to be stopped. And like it or not, you’ve got to be the one to make it happen.
Two-hundred and forty-one years ago today, America’s founding fathers joined together to declare their independence from despotism. They weren’t pals, and they didn’t all see eye-to-eye. Yet they stood firm in the shared conviction that when something is wrong, those with the ability to take action have got the responsibility to take action. They were prepared to stand up for their beliefs, and they didn’t take no for an answer.
Yet as the years wither on, that bold declaration of independence has been totally marginalised by a merciless tide of apathy. We’ve welcomed oppression and nepotism with open arms out of selfish convenience and short-sightedness. And like America’s imperfect but well-meaning founding fathers, we’re now faced with a huge choice to make.
Are we going to stand with a leader who stigmatises the disabled and treats women like worthless playthings? Are we going to let him break apart families and judge a man by the colour of his skin, or the god he prays to? Are we going to watch people die because we’ve let the President snatch away their access to basic healthcare?
That could never happen in the America I was raised in. But if we keep wasting time grandstanding about yesteryear with silly BBQs and obsessing over Donald Trump’s cryptic tweets, we’re going to sleepwalk right into that medieval hellscape. We as a people simply cannot move forward and progress the American story while this caricature demagogue holds office.
So if you care about your country, put down your phone and do something. Write to your senator. Phone your congressman. Get involved in a charity, and get out there on the street. Organise, picket and tell your fellow humans what you think and feel. You can’t let people like Donald Trump ignore you. Demand accountability, demand action, demand impeachment – and above all else, demand independence.
We’ve got big shoes to fill, and it’s not going to be easy. But it has to start here, and it has to start today.
Source: The Independent