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America Did Not Get What It Needed During July 4th Weekend

July 5, 2020

Throughout the weekend I kept thinking of a line posted on twitter that read, and I paraphrase, ‘how can a president start a war of words with Native Americans on Independence Day weekend’?

The year has been a ragged and weary one for many Americans.  Many lost their jobs, business owners are beset with unforeseen hurdles, the nation is grappling with a renewed effort at dialoguing over racism, untold numbers suffered from COVID-19, and the most troubling and sad of all is many of our fellow citizens died during the pandemic. Clearly what our nation required this weekend was a leader who knew the mood of the land, the angst of a nation, the fear and dread of many, and the wish for something hopeful and uplifting as we venture into the second half of a seemingly overwhelming year.

Rather than a Jeffersonian moment, or a bounce of spirit with Reaganesque language our nation was instead splattered by Donald Trump’s use of the July 4th weekend as an occasion to assail segments of the country that do not support him.

Late Friday night as I was reading The New York Times reporting on the Mount Rushmore performance, I thought of one of our most colorful and dynamic personalities that ever step foot in the White House.   Alice Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, had once remarked that TR always wanted to be ”the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral”.  He had an enormous dominating personality and often used it for the betterment of the nation.

Trump has such an appetite for being the only noticed one in any setting, but he lacks a serious bearing, gravitas, a genial nature, or any trait that endears him to others.  When given a platform to show what he is all about it becomes clear only one thing matters.  It is always all about him.

This weekend we watched and heard the self-absorbed nature of Trump as he lashed out at the ones around the nation with whom he disagrees.  Using the holiday for his own narrow and partisan aims he missed the higher call from John Adams about the intent of the 4th as a time for the holiday “to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade”.  Instead of a call to the grandeur of our independence, Trump made the event a snarling ‘pick the scab’ moment to open and widen the wounds of a nation.

A true leader, in a time like our nation now finds itself, rises to reach out and comfort, to instill confidence in the citizenry that effective governing will meet the needs of the moment.  With a rich history of the nation to fall back on as a foundation, a real leader could have hit the ball way over the back wall in proclaiming why the citizens should have faith in the future.  A true leader would have made it clear that hope has always been in our view as we press forward.

None of that, however, was stated to the American people.  What this nation needed to hear was never uttered.  It was not only a wasted moment for a nation, but another most-telling moment concerning who, and what, Donald Trump is as a man.

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