I took Trump’s inaugural speech like a punch to the gut. Some consider his nationalism little different from Reagan’s, applaud his patriotic appeals, celebrate his invocation of God. But Reagan rallied Americans against a distant menace; for Trump, the enemies are in our midst. Previous Republicans believed that the tide of world prosperity would lift all boats; Trump will oppose the world’s gain, for he considers it our loss. Former leaders appealed to the outstretched hands of a merciful God. Trump’s deity carries a shield to protect us and a sword to “eradicate” our enemies “from the face of the Earth.”
I marched in Denver last Saturday seeking a better vision of ourselves. I found it. Progressive women have long counterbalanced the harshness of American individualism and moderated capitalism’s excesses. From abolitionists to suffragettes, labor crusaders to rainbow pride, women articulate a communitarian core of the American idea. Their fundamental concerns necessarily include reproductive rights and evolving concepts of gender, ideals that now form the next segments in Martin Luther King’s arc of history, bending towards justice, grounded in love. They champion freedom of the body, counterpoint to freedom of the sky.
Aligned, America’s countervailing forces of individualistic liberty and communitarian justice have spawned our greatest national achievements. Now our national polarity has become an agonizing spasm, triggered by our mirrored fears. The cure is not some illusion of victory; it is a deeper love. Love of liberty, love of land, love of each other. This is the work now.
Boulder Daily Camera Editorial Advisory Board contribution, January 28, 2017