I wrote an article just yesterday wondering if we as Americans would take this opportunity to reunite like we did after 9/11. I doubted it, I admit. I thought we were too far gone.
But from everything I’ve seen on the internet just today, every video of nursing home residents being rescued posted on Twitter, every story of news crews saving lives on live television, every member of that Cajun Navy procession driving their boat-laden trucks into the storm to go save stranded Texans like the little boats at Dunkirk beach in 1940, I feel that we have not forgotten our national identity.
Indeed, America is finally remembering itself. We are standing up, reaching out, catching each other in a great trust fall. We are truly crying together, singing together, praying together. And we are working together. The opportunity God has given us to remember what is good and what is right, to remember the humanity of our brothers and sisters of different political persuasions, has been taken. We have become intensely focused on the plight of others, and in losing focus on ourselves we have regained our souls.
I am astonished at the countless acts of selflessness, the courage required and proven in those going to such extreme lengths to save both loved ones and strangers, the instinct for division rejected and a sealing together chosen instead. It is not just Texans, either. Help is pouring in from all over the country, the financial donations flooding in wherever the water already has. I see people on Twitter, who live nowhere near Houston, coordinating with rescue officials online to find people who need help. These stranded folks tweet out their location and the Twitter saviors relay that information to those who can physically get there. One wonders if Katrina could have been less devastating with a social media network in place to do similar marvels. If there is a way to help our neighbor, America will find it.
While still a terrible tragedy, this is also America’s proudest and most beautiful moment in years. America has taken the opportunity to prove what it truly is, and exceeded my cynical expectations. I look at the national response in awe and humility.
And yet, at the same time that ordinary citizens are putting themselves in harm’s way—ordinary citizens with no great wealth, no special ability, no unfair power or advantage—to rescue strangers from the mud and the floods and the destruction, President Donald Trump is sharing how he publicly pardoned Joe Arpaio right at the same time as the hurricane because it would get higher viewer ratings.
Reflect on that. Not only is our president’s highest presidential concern his television ratings, but they are his highest concern while tens of thousands of Americans—many his own voters!—are wondering if there’s going to be a tomorrow, with no idea what it might even look like if there is. Keep reflecting! He abuses the powers of the highest office in the world and exploits a national tragedy to get more media coverage for himself—publicity being one of his two chiefest metrics of success.
Is this what measures America’s success? Are fame and money what America stands for? I shudder to think that, in some small part, it is, for we elected him. But the larger part? The greater identity of America is the sweat, blood, and tears of the anonymous everyman risking all to save those in need. Why is this man, this leader at the top of a gold tower named for himself, the leader of a nation that saves men and women from the mud, when he, this holder of purse-strings, has not done an act of selfless service a day in his life?
As even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson implied just the other day, Donald Trump does not speak for Americans. He does not represent us. He speaks only for himself, cares only for that which does affect him, and he has proven it time and again.
This is the moment, my friends. This is the moment America must see itself as it really is, and see Trump for who he really is, and see the massive disparity. The great divide is not between right and left, but between America and its president. This is the moment when we must stand up together and reject Donald Trump and banish his ego from the powers of the Oval Office. Demand reform. Demand resignation. Demand Congress use its powers to divorce Trump yet another time—from the White House. Let what remains of his cult worship him in private, let them attend rallies and revival meetings at Trump Tower, but do not let him represent America before the world.
This is the moment when we wake up from our collective fever dream. This is the moment when the hallucination fades and we see just how far distant Donald Trump is from the true greatness of the American soul. This is the moment when America must stand up and say we’ll take no more. We want a real president, who is truly one of us, who lives the greatest of American values, those we see on display in Houston and across the nation today.
Electing Trump did not make America great again. It was already great. We just needed an opportunity to remember it.