“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We’ve all put our hand over our hearts and said the current, and fourth version, of the Pledge of Allegiance.
After 241 years, evolving from colonies to an independent republic following the defeat of a king who saw new-world America as a cluster of colonies ripe for exploitation and subjugation, our once experimental democracy that’s served as a lantern of freedom and opportunity, lighting the way for millions of immigrants to evade tyranny and religious persecution back home in order for them and their families to have a better life here, enters 2018 totally divisible and maybe irreparable.
Even those too blind to see can see that hopes for any rapture of opposites coming together to solve common problems is way over the horizon.
America’s asterisked (“*”) president, New York’s know-nothing billionaire Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote by three million but won the Electoral College vote by 77,000 votes in just three states, is unique among presidents for his audacity and capacity to lie at will, challenging facts and reality when it suits his humor. Trump’s talent is also a character flaw that’s turned modern media on itself so much so that fake news and alternate facts, now the coin of the realm, flow like unchecked sewage.
How did such a great nation with so much promise come so far to end up being so wrong when it comes to electing leaders who are smart and skeptical, inquisitive but not pedantic, scholarly but practical, good hearted but not foolish, caring yet strong?
America should now be governed by the poets and philosophers founding father John Adams envisioned would be in charge after his generation wrestled freedom from uncaring crowns, enabling the next generation to perfect society to the point where a third generation of leaders would represent the highest morals and ideals of human intelligence.
America at the end of 2017 is irreparably confused about government at all levels, totally divided along ideological party lines as a consequence. Deep threads of racism, born from centuries of a slave trade where race was destiny, are being resurrected with overt signals from the White House that it’s okay for whites to feel superior again, and act out accordingly, as happened in Charlottesville, North Carolina this year when Nazi and white supremacists marched by the thousands.
In too many ways to enumerate now, the 17th state is in retrograde motion, mirroring the mind-set of Republicans in Washington who fear the future if the future means their core beliefs prove false after repeated tries showing American-style conservatism can only lift the tide for big yachts, not the millions of boats of common, hard-working people.
Trump would not have allowed my Italian-born parents into the country, since they were underage when they arrived and had no skills to merit their entry, as the president would have it today. My father arrived alone at age 14 after his older sister signaled for him to join her and her Italian-born husband in Ohio. Together the two brother-in-laws turned their industry into successful small town family florists. They made their way through World War II as Italy turned from enemy to allie, prospered as small businessmen, raised families and owned property all while providing a fair and reasonable service to their community.
My father, who died young at age 54, embodied the image of a young, unskilled immigrant who found his path in society in spite of any formal education. He was savvy enough in business in a foreign country that he and his high-school educated wife could earn a living and have a home for their three sons as they reaped the rewards long days of honest, hard work can bring.
Michele Spinelli and Vincenza Gallucci would be proud their three sons received the college education neither of them had a chance at. They would be pleased with how each of theirs sons–two PhD college professors and one community-leader-entrepreneur who converted to journalism–turned out.
Based on their own stories, they wouldn’t be proud of how immigrants today are being scapegoated at best and demonized at worst by a president who cares little about anything that doesn’t reflect his image. Had my parents not arrived when they did, before 1925 when heavy restrictions were put on the in-flow of Europeans, they would have grown up in their respective small Italian villages back in Puglia with little hope their futures would be much different than those of their parents.
Washington ends the first year of the Trump Administration looking down double shotgun barrels: A possible shutdown of the federal government, which will cost billions based on previous figures, and a tax cut bill that’s both unnecessary and contrary to so-called GOP principles that demand living within your means.
Meanwhile, social media has dragged America’s IQ level down so low that voters are now unable to decipher what’s right from what’s wrong, and who’s right from who’s wrong.
If next year’s mid-term election across the nation and in Ohio mirror the political phenomena of 2016 that elected a showboat buffon over an experienced and tested candidatte, “one nation … indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” may just be the biggest fake news story of the ages.