2018: Passage to Promise or Collapse?
In my most charitable description, 2017 was a wake-up call for America; a year marked by surprise, anger, sadness and regret. In 2018, each of us must consider the blessings of the past and the challenges of the future while embracing an honest assessment of the role we must play in setting a course that reflects the values and dignity of predecessor generations. 2018 like 1776, 1865, and 1945 is one of those seminal years in American history that will determine the fundamental welfare of our citizens for the next two to three generations until we, inevitably, face a crisis of identity again. The answer to the question, “What does it mean to be an American?” seems an abstract or, at best, rhetorical question. Yet, in practice, it is the question at the top of the pyramid formed by our values, and beneath which our norms, policies and behaviors flow. It defines us in every way. Trump’s answer, wrapped in the patriotic tones of “America First,” is a deceit of epic proportions that aims to destroy the American Dream and abdicates American leadership across the globe. No self-respecting American can sit this one out. It is time for all hands on deck. Trump is a cancer that is eating the soul of our republic and is an existential threat to the future of our children and grandchildren. He, and his willing bootlickers, must be banished to the ash heap of history so that we may right the ship, which is currently listing toward peril.
On behalf of my fellow Baby Boomers, I apologize for where we are today—for allowing this monster of avarice and deceit to seize the reins of American power and influence. Although it is true that Millennial voter turnout may have prevented Trump, they did not create him. He is an early member of the Baby Boomer generation, born to parents who endured and sacrificed much during the Great Depression and World War II but, unlike their parents, went on to a contrary life of radical self-involvement with an insatiable appetite for consumption and aggrandizement. We Boomers presided over the greatest period of expansion in American wealth and power with the conscience of a sociopath. Numerous studies in presidential history argue that any sitting president is simply a reflection of the soul of the electorate, and Trump is unexceptional in this regard. Together with Millennials, Boomers can take America back; redemption can be achieved in 2018, but the clock—both temporal and electoral—is ticking.
The identity of promise—of Global Stewardship—is denominated in the values of our founders including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without regard to race, religion, creed, or national origin. Those who embrace these values are caretakers of the American Dream that assures everyone access to opportunity balanced by responsibility within a framework of meritocracy. This is the ethic of greatness; of a relentless subscription to humanity and humility undaunted by fear. Stewardship means that the days of American power acquired through coercion are over. In the future, it will be earned by the extent to which America enables others to achieve their dreams within the context of their unique and legitimate cultures. We must engage with the world in coopetition: competing to cooperate. It is not our duty as Americans to judge and condemn, it is our duty to protect each other and to support each other as a matter of humanity, rather than as determined through the narrow lens of nationalism. ‘Promise’ also embraces the fiber of hope—it is prospective—that America’s greatest days lie in the future, not the past.
The identity of collapse—of “America First”—is a narrow, isolationist, and demeaning nationalism that attempts to crush the American Dream and abdicate America’s role in the world. Its proponents believe there are more threats than opportunities in the world. That “those people” want what we have and we must fight to protect our borders, our classrooms, our government, our military, and our churches, from the insidious encroachment of intellectuals, socialists, non-Christians, and non-white and non-English speaking peoples. Exploitation trumps stewardship while ignorance is cause for prideful celebration. Its leaders prey on those threatened by progress with empty promises of returning them to yesterday’s greatness. For American firsters, there are no shades of gray, only black and white; in every contest, there is winner and there is a loser. Moreover, the ‘Collapse’ identity plays host to the conceit of a swindler whose prospects are assured by the extent to which he can divide America and concentrate power in his own hands while stealing the wealth and liberties of hard-working Americans.
These are the stakes: the two very different identities in contention for the future of America for decades to come. This is the year—2018—when, someday, you will be asked, what did you do to protect the American Dream? What did you do to save America and the world? In 2018, complacency is complicity. Unlike prior generations, it is unlikely you will be asked to leave your family to go off to a foreign land with no assurance of your return. But, you must set aside the whining and fear and stand up for your future. Participate by contributing through work and financial resources. Focus on flipping Congress in 2018 away from the harlots of Trump’s tribe so that we might preempt their embezzlement of America’s future. America’s nightmare will not end by counting on someone else to save you. The time for surprise, anger, sadness, and regret are over. It is time to win for all of us here today and born tomorrow. Let’s roll.