Millions of American in the Southeast of our mainland and in Puerto Rico are in dire need of the most basic necessities. This past weekend, when the critical test came, Donald Trump failed miserably to use his position to raise awareness of the terrible plight of 3.5 million people in Puerto Rico, choosing instead to launch personal attacks against athletes and to suggest that their First Amendment rights were negated by the fact they earn large amounts of money for their livelihoods.
The desperate civilians of Puerto Rico, who do not have roads, water, or electricity, and will soon be running low on food, were apparently not as important.
He took the low road, again. This cheap appeal to his base stands as a mark of shame…one more in a string of them.
Somehow, he manages to find “very fine people” marching alongside Nazis in Charlottesville. Yet he laments the movement toward removing symbols of brutality from the official state locations where they were placed as messages of fear.
The racial implications of these attacks are impossible to miss.
He condemns those who make an honest living because they choose to make statements in the public forum about matters of conscience. The clear implication, in fact his stated opinion, is that their salaries have bought their silence…as though they were slaves and not American citizens.
When we look at our own history, who else was criticized for the way they expressed dissatisfaction with the existing social order?
Our Founding Fathers put their lives, those of their families, and their property on the line in order to displease the King.
The Abolitionists endured great danger rescuing people from slavery.
The Suffragettes weren’t exactly a welcomed influence by the powerful tyrants of the time.
Rosa Parks was criticized, too.
How about the Freedom Riders, Dr. King, and the other brave heroes who laid down their bodies to create a path for freedom?
Were they being obedient? Did they pay the price? Has history vindicated them?
Who admires those who oppressed them? The same people Donald Trump wants to appease at any expense – including the dignity of our nation and every decent value that humans embrace. Any why? Because of his own personal vanity and because his base believes he can do no wrong (as long as he does what they want him to do).
This president chose to pardon Joe Arpaio, a man who was convicted of defying a Federal court order as he pursued his racist agenda. This pardon stands as unique in being issued before complete legal due process and without Justice Department review. This pardon is a clear example of abuse of the authority of the office of the President, again with racial undertones.
Donald Trump has no shame. He did this on the eve of a hurricane of epic and historical proportions that continues to be a tragic situation for millions, and he admits he did it for the ratings.
He repeatedly attacked President Obama with unfounded charges of not being a true US citizen and continues to attack his previous opponent after more than ten months after the election. Personal attacks are beneath the dignity of the office he holds yet we are daily subjected to them. He has failed to fill dozens of key positions in the government. He subverts the authority of every public official, including making a mockery of his own Cabinet.
There is one consolation as this travesty continues to unfold. Donald Trump is the best possible bad example of the actions of a sitting President.
He is making our worst Presidents of the past look almost tolerable by comparison. His bad conduct is uniting millions of Americans who are tired of this daily disgrace.
I hope and pray that we will unite as a country, better than ever before, and throw off the mantle of injustice this man represents.
As millions struggle to cope with the aftereffects of extreme weather, we are finding leaders in every community, people who are ready to take responsibility and to accept the implied personal sacrifice that comes with public service. As millions struggle with systemic racism and economic injustice, we can look to new, unelected leaders on sports fields across the nation. And we must follow the example of these leaders rather than our own elected President.
Betty Withrow is a 44-year resident of Big Sur, California, a rancher, artist, and local businessperson. She is the mother of three, and grandmother of five. She is the author of Prevail: Seven Keys to create a Personal Victory.
Betty is the owner and operator of The Writers Launchpad, providing support for authors at all stages of the creative process. www.thewriterslaunchpad.com. She is also the proud mother of an active duty Marine.