By J. Patrick Flomo
“I cannot tell a lie… I did cut it with my hatchet.”
Trump Told Public Lies or Falsehoods Every Day for His First 40 Days
--The New York Times
We the People Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident. This is the quintessential refrain that has caused people everywhere to perceive the United States as a “Shining City upon A Hill” from George Washington to Barack Obama. This pedestal of American iconic standing or perception has been blighted by the most un-American presidential character (in the last 50 years) --- telling lies as President of the United States. Does this iconic American phrase have any intrinsic value meaning to conservative Republicans and the religious, right? What is perplexing is that under George W. Bush, the United States sunk to its lowest position in the international perception since WWII. It took Barack Obama five years to restore America’s standing in the world as a defender of democracy and international security. Donald Trump has taken less than a year as president to sink America’s standing in the world even lower than George W. Bush. The future of NATO has become uncertain.
The United States is an idealism conceived by the most brilliant intellectuals (Hamilton, Adam, Franklin, Jefferson, Wilson etc.) of the 18th century. Abraham Lincoln said it best in this Gettysburg address: “Our fathers brought forth to this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Never in the history of modern Western civilization has such a revolutionary idea been able to institute a government based on the rule of law and not of men. In its young history of 240 years, the American experiment has been challenged with social issues of proportional magnitude, i.e., slavery, the Civil War, and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, to name a few. Throughout history, the United States has, in each of these encounters, weathered the storm and continues to strive for a more perfect union.
Since the end of WWII, the United States has become the envy and the strategic superpower of the free world —until the election of Donald Trump. American idealism has been, for the last five decades, the magnetic force of attraction for millions from around the world and has benefited greatly, i.e., Apple (Steve Jobs), Google (Sergey Brin), Facebook (Jan Koum) etc. This reservoir of continual American ingenuity has come under attack by the Trump administration.
Under the young presidency of Donald Trump, the United States has entered the twilight zone of American leadership. What is most ominous about this American twilight zone is the question of: What is truth? The genius and the apotheosis of the American government is the Constitution because it begins with the famous phrase “We the People.” It is what makes the American sui generis different from the rest of the world. The core fundamental bond that glues Americans to a single thread of unity is “Truth.” Dov Seidman, author of the book “How” and the C.E.O of LRN, articulates best the quintessential disposition of truth in American politics and society. He said, “What we are experiencing is an assault on the very foundation of our society and democracy – the twin pillars of truth and trust.”
“What makes us Americans is that we signed up to have a relationship with ideals that are greater than us and with truths that we agreed were so self-evident. We also agreed that the source of legitimate authority to govern would come from ‘We the people’.” (New York Times, June 21, 2017).
The gravitational center of American power is vested in a president by the Constitution. According to Article II, Section I: The executive power shall be invested in a president of the United States; and Section 2: The president shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of several States.” Since WWII, the President’s power has increased exponentially to include the key to the most awesome destructive weapon on earth… the nuclear bomb. To invest such tremendous power and responsibility in a single individual by the people in a democracy requires a deeper and sober understanding of the system of government by the people. The election of Donald Trump and the recent election result in Georgia seem to confound logic. As an immigrant who have lived and studied here in the United States, these elections results have caused me to wonder how well Americans understand their system of government. And I further ponder if American democracy, the greatest system of government ever created by man, is coming to end after 240 years.
The kernel safeguard of democracy is a well-informed citizenry, trust, and truth. Dov Seidman call “trust and truth” the twin pillar of democracy. But these paragons of American virtue have been challenged by the season of alternative facts, fake news, and lies propagated by the center of the greatest governmental power on earth in 2017. The American President, from Washington to Obama, is not only the chief of state but a paragon of virtue and the moral compass of the nation. And the kernel of that virtue and moral compass is “trust and truth.” This core foundation of American democracy has been shattered by Donald Trump. However, Trump did display this un-American presidential character before the people invested the power of the Republic in him. The question then becomes: Have the American people lost their sense of truth, trust, and decency that a man or woman should exhibit when he or she seeks public office?
About The Author: J. Patrick Flomo can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org