Can we call the President’s behavior and accumulated tweets an “ism” at this point? Unlike other isms, he lacks any philosophical core. He is not so much an ideologue as he is a self-centered, unhinged manager who has been promoted to a position absolutely outside of his skill set or intellectual capacity. But this is really not my point. Whatever we call this, Trumpism or Republican Governance, it is a monumental failure.
This all feels to me like times when I drove around in circles lost. This would have been prior to GPS guidance on my phone but I think you’ll agree, even when you use GPS to guide you somewhere, you still look for landmarks. So in Washington DC, as you can imagine, one of the easiest landmarks to spot is the Washington Monument. You can pretty much get lost anywhere and from a considerable distance still spot the abolisk rising 555 feet into the air. If you have a landmark like that, then you can eventually find your way home.
Outside the White House where Mr. Trump resides, stands that monument to our First President. Not far away are other landmark monuments: the Lincoln, the Capitol, the eternal flame on President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington. I note this because on this July 4th, it is quite apparent to most of us that the country is drifting further and further downstream, unmoored and rapidly removing itself from the founding ideas of our Republic. We are nearly at a point where none of those monuments is visible to us and most disturbing of all, the current president seems oblivious to them and yet, they are just outside his residence.
On this Independence Day, find a landmark. Read the Preamble to the Constitution. Read the Bill of Rights. Read Frederick Douglass’ speech, “What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?” Or visit one of those monuments. Enter the Lincoln Memorial and read the words inscribed on the temple walls. Any of these and more can guide us back to the vision and dream of America—a vision and dream yet to be fully realized but one that calls to us to do so.
I’m a Baptist clergyman. I do not believe in the entanglements of Church and State. I prefer the State to remain out of religious matters and Presidents to stop talking about God and begin living up to their constitutional responsibilities. As a citizen then, I am noting on July 4, 2017, that we are in danger as a Republic, as the President twitters away the very notion of E Pluribus Unum. There is no excuse for us to be lost. There are simply too many monuments and monumental moments in our history for us to give up on the dream. But we’re lost. Instead of driving around in circles, let’s just admit that. May this Independence Day become a landmark for finding our way back to the cherished dreams of our founding documents.