Almost 20 years ago we stood united in pain as we watched the terrorist attacks on New York City and our country unfold before our very eyes. Legislatures from opposite sides and political parties stood on the steps of the Capitol in prayer and unity. United by love of America, they stood together in defiance. In defiance of evil that attempted to destroy our Republic and constitutional process. The world watched in awe at a country rising from the ashes stronger and more determined. The proudest moment to be an America has always been in strife and challenges. Americans rose to the occasion united in doing good and reaching out in forgiveness and peace.
My love for America is deep down within my soul. Possibly because our mother was raised in the thick of Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, or maybe because born European in post war Europe we saw America as the land of hope and glory. America has always been the “somewhere over the rainbow” dream for the many who wanted to taste the good life. America hugged diversity in its cities, churches, schools, and government. Americans opened their hearts and wallets to any disaster anywhere across the globe. Never asking anything in return, they give and gave because it is and was the right thing to do. The corniness of America set it apart as it fought for the small guy and beat the big guy to submission. America had a soul. And despite it’s dark past of slavery, the Civil War, Vietnam, and 9/11; it managed to dust itself off and continue on its journey toward greatness. Until now.
The division in America didn’t start overnight. It did not materialize this week. It was nurtured through calculated political rhetoric that divided us by color, gender, and profession. It was a deliberate attempt at provocation and votes. The bigotry found its way into our schools and higher education. Like a game of tag on the playground, we gradually moved to our sides, our opinions, and our political parties, leaving no room for any compromise. The intolerance of anyone with a diverse thought, faith, opinion, background, and intellectual ideals found sordid fertile ground in premeditated chaos.
The 2016 election was the result of a segment of the population disfranchised by an elitist media and political party that dehumanized them as “deplorable”, “stupid”, “uneducated”, “racists”, and “supremacists”. They were middle America tired of being marginalized and labeled because of their Judeo Christian values and beliefs that success is not God-given to university intellectuals only, but to all Americans. That believing in the good of America, the flag, and liberty does not make you a bigot, racist, deplorable, uneducated, or stupid. That teaching children should be a privilege and not an opportunity to mold them into political stooges. That our universities and colleges should be the bedrock of diverse thinking and opinion not a platform for radical conversion and detrimental to free speech. America was founded on the premise that equality and freedom are achieved through personal responsibility and the firm belief that each individual adds to the strength of the nation. America was founded on individuality and diversity that put man on the moon, created Disney Land, and food empires that have taken the rest of the globe by storm. That was why Donald Trump was elected in 2016. The opposition elected him.
For four years we witnessed the growth in division and the rejection of the 2016 election. The visceral hatred of Donald Trump was apparent in mainstream media, Hollywood, and the opposition. This despite the fact that until COVID hit like a freight train, the US had the best economy in the world, minorities thrived, Arabs came to the table with Israel to sign agreements, and China was exposed for the villain that it is. But Donald Trump was and is still his own worse enemy. Highly erratic in thought and compulsive in deed, he managed to often alienate those around him. His penchant for getting rid of individuals who do not agree with him did not go unnoticed. He had a revolving door policy that laundered people like yesterday’s socks. I personally cannot imagine ever working for such an impulsive individual who tweets at night and having to clean his often over-the-top rhetoric in the morning. But that is not what made me angry.
My anger surfaced when I witnessed thugs climbing the Capitol walls in an attempt to stop a constitutional process. My anger rose even higher when I knew that the protest, albeit constitutionally legal, was urged by a president. The one person who should be unifying and keeping order rather than initiating unrest. What exactly did he think was going to happen when passions that have been running high were assembled in a large crowd with one intent; to overturn the election? The wonderful ability and right to protest and assemble is America’s greatest gift. The intentional manipulation of that right is a weak link and unforgiving.
Greatness is founded in humility. There comes a time when the good of the many outweighs that of the one. When one must hold their head up high and depart with dignity. When one’s greatness is reflected in gracious defeat. Those who for four years would not accept the 2016 election are as much to blame for those who in 2020 are doing the same. But justification by pointing accusatory fingers will neither bring the country together nor change the outcome.
Any protest that turns into a riot is wrong and evil. That includes the many months that cities were burnt in a disingenuous excuse for police brutality. The same people condemning the Capitol debacle were condescending in condemning the summer riots. Majors and governors stood by and allowed the desecration of churches, synagogues, and national monuments without raising a hand to stop them. Mainstream media denied the violence. But is that justification for the storming of the Capitol? It is not. It is an attempt at deflating the seriousness of the situation. We witnessed footage normally given to banana republics and third world countries. America is and should be better than that. A president should maintain the dignity of the office no matter what. Donald Trump didn’t.
This is a time for healing America. It is also time for serious election reform. Election reform shouldn’t be partisan but bipartisan. Four years ago, the cry for the dissolution of the Electoral College by the losing party resounded through our brains like a bad tune. I don’t hear them asking for that now. How convenient. A perfect example of an attempt at manipulating the constitution for power and not for the good of the nation. I am of the strong opinion that in every election there is an attempt for fraud. It’s politics. This election was no different. However, to say that the entire election process was fraudulent is an insult to those of us who voted and who believe in the constitutionality of the Electoral College and congressional confirmation. These are not only processes, but valued traditions that set our country apart from others.
As I watched the Capitol melee unfold before my eyes, I thought of all the Gold Star families that lost loved ones protecting not only our liberties at home but those of others across many ponds. They served and believed in the goodness of America and its constitution. They died protecting the constitution and electoral process. There is more to patriotism than waving the flag and placing a hand on your heart: there is the sacred preservation of what made and makes this country great. I have one message for Mr. Trump:
Mr. Trump, if you truly love America and Americans, you will do the right thing and gracefully leave office with the bit of dignity you have left. You managed to reduce your presidency to a moment in time akin to Nixon’s resignation, or Bill Clinton’s sexual exploits. Nobody will recall the Abraham Accords and peace in the Middle East, or the pre-COVID strong economy, or bringing jobs home from China. Your legacy will frame a hazy picture of thugs climbing the Capitol wall intimidating legislatures in an attempt to overturn the Electoral College vote. That’s what you left America to remember you by. Redeem yourself by apologizing to America. You owe it to the country. You owe it to the voters. You owe it to me.