One of Donald Trump’s first official acts as President was to sign a proclamation declaring a National Day of Patriotism. The date of said national patriotism is to be announced by the high office at a later time.
News organizations, such as Time, were quick to note other Presidents who had also signed orders declaring national observances of patriotism.
President Carter proclaimed a full week for the effort, but set the date to begin in February, a month after President Reagan entered office.
As Carter was aware of rumors that Reagan team members had colluded with the Iranians to slow the release of American hostages being held in Iran, Carter’s week of patriotism seems a wee bit aimed to the group of Republican citizens, whose acts – in hindsight – seems extraordinarily unpatriotic given they had not yet assumed office.
President Reagan also declared a day of the calendar for patriotism, and spoke to the topic throughout numerous speeches, even alluding to U.S. patriotism before a wall which separated the governments of East and West Germany.
Of course, the American calendar is dotted with other dates reserved for the act of patriotism: Veteran’s Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Bill of Rights Day, and Washington’s Birthday are examples of a national government binding into the U.S. calendar, the observance of, and duty to, patriotism.
In the case of U.S. patriotism, one hopes that the observer appreciates he or she is being asked to view the act of patriotism through the lens of the U.S. Constitution, a document whose primary purpose is to establish the right to liberties and freedoms of individuals, over that of those elected to govern.
In the case of a 2017 National Day of Patriotism, the duty of the American people must also be to recognize President Trump as a man who enters presidential office with known Nationalists at his side, and with his ear; extremists (who even by right wing standards are considered extreme) serving as official (and, unofficial) advisors; seals of approval from members of the United States Nazi Party, and, public exclamations of support from former and current heads of the Ku Klux Klan of the United States of America.
While it is perfectly fine for a President of the United States to rally unity, it would be ignorant for anyone to assume President Trump does not recognize the full spectrum of his support among the American people: as aware as he is of David Duke’s approval, President Trump is equally informed that 25,000 New Yorkers protested on the eve of his inauguration; approximately two-hundred protestors were arrested in Washington, D.C. in protest against the validity of his presidency; scores of protests against his anti-immigrant views are occurring throughout the world; and, American women are preparing themselves for a March on Washington, some in shades of pink, but very few (we would assume) styled to mimic the former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Further, before all of Trump’s staff have found their office door, several are under investigation for crimes ranging from collusion with agents of foreign governments to ethics violations, and many have yet to provide full and complete financial documents to the Senate. Providing these documents is essential, because as our chief ethics officer has made clear, an appointee’s conflicts of interest must be addressed prior to his or her assuming office.
It is the Senate’s role to ensure that those who assume office, are able to maintain a primary allegiance to the Constitution, over that of self-interest – which is secondary to all oaths of office. It is the Senate’s role to ensure that no nominee to higher office is compromised financially, ethically, medically, or otherwise.
Apparently, the fact is lost on some Republican Senators. These Senators are busying themselves on social media and cable news, attempting to argue that Democrat Senators are displaying a lack of patriotism in asking for the information.
Many feel those outnumbered in the Senate should acquiesce to approval of the nominees presented, as these Democrat Senators do not have a vote count by which to stop a nominee’s progression to office.
Perhaps, those who have expressed concern over certain nominees do not have a majority vote, but Senators are empowered by law to ask questions and they have been gifted by nature to articulate their questions. More importantly, the Senators are legally empowered to demand the information they seek.
However, – if somehow one or two of the more alarming nominees are approved by the majority of the Senators, and it is later determined this nominee has not acted, or is not acting in the interest of the United States, these Senators will then have provided a public service, by way of public record.
This public record can be used in a court of law, were there need to prosecute, or litigate matters.
In the interim, the U.S. public will need to accept a nominee (and one or two like him), who appears surprisingly uninformed about the department he wishes to manage. He has not committed a crime by virtue of his demonstrated lack of curiosity about the thing. This said, if departments, such as the Department of Energy, are compromised by this lack of interest, the U.S. citizen must demand his removal.
Republicans are already being supported by fanciful headlines proclaiming obstructionist Democrats let loose in Washington. Fine, and it was the French who received the better deal in the Louisiana Land Purchase, and Sarah Palin can too see Russia from Alaska.
It would seem short-sighted to assume President Trump’s enthusiasm for patriotism was meant for all Americans, and it does seem a bit intelligent to maintain perspective, as it relates to principles of patriotism versus that of nationalism.
The phrase often asked in respect to Nazi Germany, is how did it happen? How did it happen that a people whose origins were bound in written word to God, were almost driven to extension?
Those of us who acknowledge the atrocities of Nazi Germany (there are many who do not), refer to the period as The Holocaust, a word derived from the Greek hólos, “whole” and kaustós, “burnt”, or burnt whole.
The Holocaust was allowed to unfold because when hate appeared, there were those who did not speak, and those who did not act.
Hitler was allowed to rise to power by separating a population into sub-groups, each eventually turning against another, until neighbors were transformed into informers, and streets were abandoned, as Jews were gathered and marched out of town to awaiting train.
As President Trump did his best PT Barnum impression in order to mask the fact the United States is not as united in support of his views as he would lead us to believe, the Interior Department tweeted images of the sizes of the crowds during President Obama’s inauguration and President Trump’s inauguration, as did numerous other outlets.
One can imagine a staff member at the Interior, tasked with social media management, noticing he or she could publish to social media, information similar to that trending on Twitter.
However, someone within the Trump administration was offended, and the Interior Department has been ordered to cease all social media activity until further notice from the Trump administration.
Someone may wish to point out to President Trump that he is a fair-haired, while male – a member of a very large group of men who have served this country as President. History will tell his tale. President Obama was a symbol of another mother for many Americans, white and black Americans alike. For black Americans, of whom I do not pretend to speak, he represented an acknowledgement of a terrible and traumatic legacy, and a promise of the hope for a future.
If one wishes to a understand a man, one need only look to his behaviors. Or, as Oprah once said, “if someone tells you who they are, believe them.”
Ideas of patriotism and nationalism have long been debated in disciplines of academic study, including philosophy, religion, political science, and sociology.
At its core, issues of patriotism and nationalism are philosophical, with political consequence.
Issues of religion and the Divine have always, and only been, matters personal to the individual; as long as this individual, and his or her God, does not infringe upon any other individual, and his or her God.
Plato, Aristotle, Locke, every founding father, and more than a few Pulitzer Prize winners in Literature, have struggled with ideas of divine right; common good, as it relates to possible infringements of individual freedoms and liberties; obligations of a citizenry to its government, in exchange of power to the government; the responsibility of a government to yield its power to serve on behalf of the individual, the common good, and, an awareness of how the scales are balanced between the two; and, obligation of an individual to the Divine (or self), when considering his or her support of, or objection to, that which is not protective or restorative to the governed.
Democracy, the U.S. form and version, was founded on political and philosophical thoughts which evolved into democratic principles, which ultimately viewed the government’s purpose as to serve its people, and to defend democratic principles for its people, here and abroad.
As for “its people”, our government is to define the peoples of the United States as those who reside within its borders: the government cannot extend protection of individual rights to only those with proper paperwork or Visa, while still maintaining its duty to protecting democratic principles.
And, should anyone hold doubt, these principles are embedded as rights to the people, within the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The U.S. founding documents are a contract between the people of the United States and the government elected; and, the Constitution provides authority and power to the government, in so far as the government abides by the powers granted to its administration in order that it might defend democracy, and protect individual rights and liberties. A bold experiment in democracy, indeed.
For Further Reading:
Hsquared Magazine: Full Text, Notes on Nationalism, an Essay by George Orwell. Published in the Magazine of Philosophy, Psychology, and Aesthetics, (1945).
Wikipedia Entry: Notes on Nationalism
Stanford Online Encyclopedia on Philosophy: John Locke