I don’t believe Donald Trump was elected President purely on the basis of what he’s promised to do or the things he’s said. I think the election of Donald Trump was effectively a protest vote — backlash at encroaching social liberalism and a multicultural American identity. If I am correct in this assertion, then people from sea to shining sea abandoned what this country is for what they presume it, or wish it, to be.
The United States wasn’t founded by tribalism, or for imperialism, or for social purity. The United States didn’t spawn from a singular base for a singular base. It wasn’t built to be a nation for a similar some. The United States was philosophically founded, and owes its existence to progressivists who subscribed to socially progressive ideas of autonomy and freedom, where one pledged not allegiance to a lineage, but to themselves. Politicians did not create this union, philosophers did, specifically philosophers influenced by dissenting liberal European intellectuals who questioned the legitimacy of the iron fist of individual rule, of monarchy, in favor of ideas we today umbrella under the catch-all term “freedom” — self-awareness, personal conviction, and the tender embrace of equality.
These ideas, Enlightenment ideas, are tangible as the United States of America, an ongoing social experiment founded by immigrants and refugees and continually expressed by descendants of immigrants and refugees. A crowned woman, holding a torch to illuminate the heavens, acts as a beacon of those ideas — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” All that this nation is exists in those words, and yet here we are, quick to trade in that symbol for walls and sequestration and slamming shut the doors that were once held open for our own families. Enlightenment has been forsaken for deontological egoism, personified in irrationally moving a man into power who tapped into insecurity and fear so as to lead a nation whose existential integrity is wholly dependent on rationality.
But most interestingly, the majority of those who set out on this deleterious path are those who exalt this nation, whose love of country exists at such great heights, that even the meekest of criticism is grounds for treason. But as their decisions–their shameless, swift, and divisive repudiation of social liberalism and multiculturalism–have shown, veritable love of country does not always exist hand-in-hand with understanding of country, for those whose actions and beliefs have culminated in the rise of a man who poisons this nation without a second thought are themselves abandoning the very framework that built this nation for which they claim undying loyalty and affection.
These people are willing to trade a nation founded by philosophers who extensively advocated for ideas we today umbrella under the term “freedom” for one that exists as antithesis. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” has been scratched away for “Make America great again.” These people bought sequestration and lies wholesale, believing them to be the torch illuminating the heavens, a beacon of freedom, when in reality, they bought perversion. It is truly distressing that a devotion to country today manifests as the opposite of the very principals, the very ideas, on which it was created in the first place.
Featured image by Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.