Love my country, love my city, love the democratic process, do not love my president . . . a blog about the 2020 RNC coming to town
A couple of months ago, I posed a question on Facebook: Would you be interested in reading a political-ish blog (Unconventional) about someone who loves her country, and loves her city (host to the 2020 Republican National Convention), but who does not love President Trump? I wondered how I could square a desire to support my hometown as it carries out a treasured American tradition, with my ambivalence regarding this particular candidate and his re-election celebration. I said I was hopeful about reconciliation among Americans; I said I’d want to hear and consider the “other side” as it relates to the president.
Many folks kindly responded that they would be interested in that blog. I dutifully set out to write it; in fact, I attempted to write the first post twice before today. Both of those blogs were pretty benign. I tried to set a measured tone. I was very, very careful. I wrote one blog on my birthday, hoping if I posted it then perhaps I could mitigate the response from those who feel differently about America in 2019.
But before I could perfect them, and post them, the news cycle continued to explode. And while I did not want to be aggressive (at all), I did want to be relevant. And so I waited, trying to edit my way to an appropriate, but also timely, first essay.
And that led me to today, October 9th, 2019.
Today is Yom Kippur, a solemn and holy day of atonement and repentance in the Jewish tradition. As I recognize the importance of this date, I find I have something else I want to say.
We, as Americans, desperately need forgiveness today.
Because today, the Trump administration hastily agreed to allow Turkey to send ground forces into northern Syria, and ordered our troops to stand down instead of protect the Kurds. Today, our soldiers were told to abandon those who stood shoulder to shoulder with us as we fought to defeat ISIS, and who lost over 11,000 people to that cause. Today, those Kurdish people will likely succumb to a slaughter.
[If you’re getting the feeling that the tone of this blog has changed a bit, you are correct. And I’m actually not sorry about that.]
As we approach 2020, and largely celebratory exercises like political conventions, I am confronted with our sobering responsibility as American citizens. We have a duty to take an unflinching look at the USA and evaluate our standing at home and abroad. Today offers a particularly instructive, albeit tragic, opportunity.
President Trump says he doesn’t want endless wars – but he is ensuring chaos and destruction with this move in Syria; our presence was essential there in holding ISIS at bay. His reckless decision came without collaboration, or coordination, or input, or expertise. It has been rejected by the military (the threat of this move prompted Gen Mattis to resign some months ago), national security experts, and our elected leaders. In fact, if I wanted this blog (and especially my first post in the series), to have a bipartisan bent, here it is: In addition to every Democrat I’ve come across, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham all loudly condemn this heartless action. Even Pat Robertson said, “The President of the United States is in great danger of losing the mandate of Heaven if he permits this to happen.”
[Um I’m having an out-of-body experience quoting Pat Robertson in this blog. Did not see that one coming. Welcome to 2019.]
I am grateful to see this opposition.
I believe opposing this president is necessary. But this effort is unlike opposing those with a different guiding political philosophy (say, conservative versus liberal). Because I think folks from those different camps may still agree about the cornerstones of our democracy, about the importance of our traditions, about the dignity of the presidency, and about many of our common values as Americans. Or at least, there was a time when we agreed upon them. I think most of us, in spite of our differences, love our country.
What happened today (and is happening as I type) underscores fundamental, on-going issues with this president. His complete disregard for the emoluments clause (which states that a president may not profit from his presidency), was revisited again today, calling into question his motives given Trump Towers Istanbul. His current treatment of the Kurds is sadly reminiscent of an ongoing disdain for our allies, and his earlier abandonment of those who sacrificed mightily on our behalf during in the war in Iraq. And unfortunately, we’ve seen his rash, uninformed, inexplicable foreign policy actions before, notably when he implemented the “Muslim ban” without any coordination or planning. With unknowing, targeted people on planes in midair, or waiting to board planes across the world, American airport personnel scrambled to make sense of an extreme – and possibly unconstitutional – order.
There are human beings who pay the price for these policies. That has always been the case, regardless of who occupies the Oval Office, but it is striking that for President Trump, the human price never seems to be a consideration. As has been noted (regarding his border policy in particular), the cruelty often is the point.
As I align myself today with conservatives with whom I regularly do not agree, (and liberals with whom I usually do) my evolved two-pronged purpose for writing this particular blog is crystallized: first, to articulate explicitly and unapologetically why I do not support this president; and second, how – in the face of that obstacle – I may still support the democratic process and our treasured traditions (in this case, the 2020 RNC). And still affirm the right of those who heartily disagree with my take to hold their opinions and support whom they support; we are Americans, after all. Given the vitriol and aggression and anger permeating our culture, appeasement seemed like a noble goal for this space initially. But as I launch the Unconventional blog I have come to believe it shouldn’t be the only (or even the primary) one.
Today I revisited notes in my journal from a civil rights mission trip I took this summer (more on that later), and was drawn to a quote by Martin Luther King in his famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” When considering the make-no-waves white moderate, he lamented the citizen “who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice” . . . and I felt very seen – and called out.
Thank you for allowing me some space to call this day like I see it.
In my earlier attempts at this post, I ended with this:
“So let’s move forward . . . and pray for a contested convention! (Aw, just kidding. But not really. Hey, I’m doing my best – it’s my first post, lol.) How about this: Pray for America. Better, right?”
In my prayers for America – those of gratitude, and those of repentance – I would now add this: Pray for comfort and peace in all of the world. And especially today, for the casualties of a viciously unconventional American president.
Other UNCONVENTIONAL blogs: