A startling sentiment: Disrespect for the president inspires a love of our country

Published on Monday, 25 December 2017 20:39
Written by Ruth Marcus

The Washington Post

Here, for me at least, is the comforting paradox of the age of Trump: I have never respected a president less, nor loved my country more.

This sentiment may startle. It may rankle, even. It comes in a week that witnessed the passage of the worst domestic policy legislation of my lifetime, followed by the now ritual but always repulsive lauding of President Trump. First by the Cabinet courtiers summoned for that purpose; next by Republican lawmakers willing to lay it on just as thick - even more nauseating, because they know better than the servile flattery of their words and because they occupy, theoretically anyway, a coequal branch.

And this patriotic burst comes disconcertingly in a year that has seen the public display of the racist, xenophobic worst that America has to offer. These ugly impulses existed long before Donald Trump’s pursuit of the presidency and will, sadly, outlast him.

But candidate Trump diligently tilled the soil in which this hatred flourishes and, more appallingly, President Trump tolerated its deadly consequences in Charlottesville. “Very fine people on both sides,” indeed. Trump’s own secretary of state, when asked whether those comments represented American values, was moved to say, “The president speaks for himself.” How true, in every sense of that sentence.

Has there been a more embarrassing year for the United States? Thinking Americans cringe at what foreign countries and their leaders make of us and our president, with his reckless upending of international agreements, his bigoted and poorly executed travel ban, his unashamed ignorance, his reckless tweets, his endless susceptibility to flattery.

Moral Americans - and the Alabama Senate results suggest there remains, pardon the phrase, a moral majority - recoil at the president’s support for a candidate credibly accused of molesting a 14-year-old, at his incessant lies, at his (and his family’s) unabashed willingness to use government service as just another pocket-lining opportunity. This litany is made all the more disgusting by the complicity of so many members of his party.

And yet, I am thankful for Trump in this sense: He has unleashed my inner patriot. I love my country, for all its flaws and for all its flawed leader.

It is worth the fighting for. I knew this, always, on an intellectual level. The Trump presidency has made me feel it, viscerally and passionately. The ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and implemented through the careful structures and capacious phrases of the Constitution do not merely compel our respect. In the Trump era, they require our passionate defense.

Ruth Marcus is the deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns on Monday, 25 December 2017 20:39. Updated: Monday, 25 December 2017 20:42.