Patriotism On This Fourth of July

I’m patriotic. We even have a flagpole at my house. Right now, however–in recognition of the fact that an embarrassing buffoon occupies and degrades the Oval Office–it is flying the flag of the City of Indianapolis.

Where is my America on this 4th of July, 2017?

At the federal level, my America isn’t functioning–although it is “performing.”

The New Yorker looked for “American Dignity on the 4th of July,” and (surprise!) found the White House lacking. The article began with an excerpt from the famous speech in which Frederick Douglass pointed to unrealized American ideals, considered Obama’s efforts to move the nation closer to its aspirations, then segued to the current occupant of the White House, who neither knows nor cares about such abstractions:

Donald Trump, who, in fairness, has noted that “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job,” represents an entirely different tradition. He has no interest in the wholeness of reality. He descends from the lineage of the Know-Nothings, the doomsayers and the fabulists, the nativists and the hucksters. The thematic shift from Obama to Trump has been from “lifting as we climb” to “raising the drawbridge and bolting the door.” Trump may operate a twenty-first-century Twitter machine, but he is still a frontier-era drummer peddling snake oil, juniper tar, and Dr. Tabler’s Buckeye Pile Cure for profit from the back of a dusty wagon.

The article described the President’s vulgar and sexist tweets about the hosts of “Morning Joe,” and other examples of his constant debasement of the Oval Office, before concluding–a bit more optimistically  than many of us feel right now–

Frederick Douglass ended his Independence Day jeremiad in Rochester with steadfast optimism (“I do not despair of this country”). Read his closing lines, and what despair you might feel when listening to a President who abets ignorance, isolation, and cynicism is eased, at least somewhat. The “mental darkness” of earlier times is done, Douglass reminded his audience. “Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe.” There is yet hope for the “great principles” of the Declaration of Independence and “the genius of American Institutions.” There was reason for optimism then, as there is now. Donald Trump is not forever. Sometimes it just seems that way.

To paraphrase a favorite line from my grandmother: From the New Yorker’s mouth to God’s ears.

Meanwhile, polls tell us that international opinion of the U.S. is at an all-time low, that allies and enemies alike are appalled and repulsed by–and very worried about– the unstable man to whom we have entrusted the nuclear codes. Even Canada is pulling away.

They weren’t quite fighting words, but the recent speech by Canada’s foreign minister in Parliament revealed the growing chasm between the country and its powerful neighbor.

The minister, Chrystia Freeland, told the House of Commons last week that as the United States, under its new administration, “has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership,” Canada, like other countries, must “set our own clear and sovereign course.”

The question worrying genuine patriots on this 4th of July is whether, given our weakened democratic norms and compromised electoral and governing institutions, we can mount a successful Resistance, and reclaim our America.

Will We the People rally to the symbolism of Independence Day and reaffirm the importance of the ideals on which our nation was founded? Will we demand fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law? Or will we simply normalize the dishonorable behavior of this administration and the corruption of a Congress that has elevated party above country, and cease to be the America so many of us have believed in?

I’d like to fly my flag again.

Happy Fourth of July.


  1. The flag isn’t flying at my house today either. In fact, there are few flags flying here on my street where in years past there were many. The one exception is the house three doors from me that is celebrating by flying the Confederate flag and keeping the neighborhood in a constant state of alarm by setting off every blasted thing they can lay their tiny hands on.

    Maybe next year……

  2. Happy July 4, 2017!

    I have been awake since before 4:00 a.m.; watched the rerun of Rachel Maddow and beginning of Larry O’Donnell, including some of Michael Moore’s segment, and am working on attitude adjustment. Here is my uplifting thought for the day; today only, it will probably be gone by tomorrow.

    I have been deeply concerned about Trump’s upcoming G-20 meeting and his highly touted “first” face-to-face meeting with Putin. Trump has not been able to apply the brakes (if he has any) on his Tweets and chest-beating speeches in this country; I don’t see this happening in Europe, not before, during or after the G-20 meeting and am leery of the Putin “thing”. But maybe Trump will finally go so far over the edge – his own edge – that the actual remaining world leaders he meets with will force the United States Republican Congress to take action to stop this fool…unless Kim Jong Un orders his North Korean troops to nuke the meeting while they are all gathered in one place.

    Not much of an attitude adjustment, I admit, but there isn’t much to work with these days.

  3. Let’s not rush things because the “Resistance” is by no means ready to occupy the Whitehouse again. From my understanding, the “Resistance” is nothing but the Clinton Wing of the fraudulent Democratic Party funded by Wall Street. While we might get a more eloquent con man like Cory Booker, we’ll still have a con man at the helm.

    By the way, I saw where Cory was going to swear off Big Pharma’s money so he can focus on the healthcare debate. His Big Pharma dollars got him to vote down the Drug Importation Bill put forth by Bernie Sanders. Joe Donnelly, also owned by Big Pharma Indiana machine, Eli Lilly, also voted down the Bill.

    Most historians are quick to point out that we are not a democracy. The people only elect representatives to Congress. We are a Republic.

    However, how can we have any form of representation when our elected officials serve the Donor Class, not the Citizen Class?

    As opposed to getting confused and disgruntled by his Tweets, we need to focus on the new populist president’s promises made to the American people. Don’t forget, he ran as a populist sending a clear message to the GOP Establishment.

    Former President Obama ran as a progressive and was going to send a clear message to the Democratic Establishment.

    Obama did nothing but promote Establishment from the Wall Street bailouts to gifts given to Big Insurance when writing the ACA.

    Trump is failing to deliver on his promises as well. He acknowledged the system was rigged to benefit the Donor Class (like him), but what he’s done since January is enrich the Donor Class.

    The Koch brothers have worked with Pence to place their people in administrative positions. Cutting the federal government’s regulations benefit the Koch brothers directly.

    “Resisting Trump” is just another ploy of the duopoly under two fraudulent political parties. It doesn’t matter which figurehead gets elected, the Washington Establishment maintains its center-right dominance.

    Many Americans believe we have a democracy – they are wrong. The Oligarchs set up a representative republic to govern this country. However, when folks like the Koch brothers can donate money across state lines to influence elections in half the states, guess what?

  4. No flag at our house. I flew it upside down Jan. 20 and a few other days. Two neighbors ‘attacked’ me in a public space, notifying me such was only done to proclaim distress. My response was ‘exactly’. They said I was insulting all veterans. I responded that the resident of the White House was in essence a draft dodger, and had maligned our military during the campaign. All to no avail. The flag is not in itself sacred. Our republic is, and is under attack by those with no conscience.

  5. Happy Fourth! Remember that flag waving is NOT patriotism. It’s just flag waving.

  6. Douglass might be singing a different tune had he been alive to watch Drumpf in action. I’m guessing he’d have despair to spare.

  7. The atrocities of slavery, the nazi death camps, the inquisition, and the treatment of native Americans must never be forgotten by Americans who may have forgotten, or never learned world and American history like our current president. This Fourth of July may we remember that danger to our republic and personal freedoms lurks everywhere. These threats often begin as innocuous, sometime humorous violations of our rights, so we must stay informed and keep vigalent.

  8. I agree with Wayne that our republic is in a state of distress. Itʻs sad that everything you said to those flag-wavers is true, yet they are blinded by their “patriotism” (and they are confused because itʻs not Veteranʻs Day, but a day to celebrate our independence as a nation which includes ALL citizens.

    Hereʻs an article of an interview with Noam Chomsky that illustrates the current intolerance for any kind of criticism toward those in power in America today:

  9. I think it is important Not to cede patriotic symbols to the right wing. Accordingly, I mix my messages: I fly the American flag proudly on Memorial Day, the Fourth, election season, etc. At the same time I put out clearly liberal yard signs like the You are Welcome Here one, and those of progressive political candidates. I’m not going to let anyone decide for me what the American flag means. I also fly other flags at other times, such as my eco-earth flag. I hope my neighbors and people who drive down Central Ave. every day notice!

  10. No American flag flying at our house today. I do not feel supported by or supportive of my current government representatives. They do not represent me nor many of my friends, colleagues, neighbors, and customers.

    We are in the midst of a great Second Civil War. Casualties continue to increase, and blood flows on our nation’s streets and in our communities. Ferguson, Atlanta, Sandy Hook, East Coast, West Coast, North & South are where lines have been drawn and battles are being waged.

    Once again, everyday men and women are on the battlefield while generals and their aides watch from behind the lines. Only when we declare “Enough is Enough” can we band together to fight for what is ours — our lands, our children, our own health and welfare.

  11. We are flying a flag – one we lovingly refer to as the July 3rd flag. It is a replica of the over flying over Independence Hall on July 3rd, 1776 – our REAL Independence day, the day Jefferson finished the revisions argued by the Congress on the 1st and 2nd. It was a process that took days and debate and consensus. Something our political system lost long before the current POTUS took office. He is Not the cause, merely the manifestation of a political and democratic illness that will take more than resistance to cure.
    We fly a flag in the spirit of 1776 – the document was a perfect distillation of democratic ideals, if the authors were not. I hold to those ideals and I will continue to do more than resist.

  12. Thank you, Sheila, and always the commenters as well. Have a wonderful Fourth.

    This seems pretty patriotic: If you want a chuckle today, check out the Indians Republican Party page on Facebook. Yesterday they posted, “What is your Obamacare nightmare?” As of this writing, there are 2,500 PRO-OBAMACARE comments and a tiny handful of anti comments — 2,500+ people raving about how they were HELPED by the ACA!

    Now if only someone would listen . . . .

  13. as we all start to look over our shoulders,like in war, were doing it with our NEW goverment. take note, this russian meeting,is probably the cusp of money and wall street gaining a new buddy, more power and, contempt for our democracy. we have allowed money to be our new goverment,and now we sell our dignity for money, if tillerson wants us to come closer to russia for gain$ then he cant see Ukraine,and Crimea…..we shouldnt be looking at blood money either…happy forth all….

  14. The American Flag, the stars and stripes is not a symbol of the current American government it is a representation of the land and its people as well as its government. Fly your flag proudly and display your signs to support the environment, healthcare for all Americans, unity for all, acceptance of all (even the idiots who are currently in power) and resistance to the Trump Administration. Just don’t over use the flag flying so it becomes ubiquitous and therefore has no meaning.

  15. My flag has flown everyday since 9-11 to honor those who died that day and for those who made the supreme sacrifice every day since.

  16. Yes,we have a member of the oligarchy as president,a total buffoon.

    However,the buffoon didn’t sit on his butt and continue to read My Pet Goat as an appropriate response whilst the country was in the midst of a terrorist attack.

    Anyone remember the government’s response to Katrina?

    The buffoon didn’t start the military activities in Iraq,Afghanistan,Syria and Ukraine.

    The buffoon didn’t take advantage of the Haitians (as did Clinton Inc). Trump didn’t develope a coup in Honduras.

    Trump isn’t selling arms to Iran in order to arm S American death squads.

    Trump didn’t bail out Wall St….But you can bet he will just as Obama.

    Trump’s numbers of sending illegal immigrants back to their home countries or held in “camps managed by CoreCivic” is lower than under President Obama. No one was more anti-immigrant than the Obama administration…the truth hurts,but it is the truth.

    Don’t fret,that buffoon will keep the interests of BIGPharma and the insurance industry executives in mind before any drastic measures are taken…Just like Obama and Baucus,et al.

    This reads as nothing more than a group of spoiled caucasians having a pout.

    This kind of McResistance is so endemic of today’s Democrats. It’s so effective.

  17. One man’s hero is another man’s villain. I remember seeing a London newspaper in Wiliamsburg dated 1777 in which readers were told that the father of our country, George Washington, was a traitor to the Crown and if captured, hung from the nearest Opinions vary on patriotism, too, in part due to the current psychotic protoplams lodged there. I think of patriotism differently. I think of it as a celebration of sacrifice made by many in the defense of our republic and its institutional democracy we enjoy. I participated in WW II and did not participate in such a war because of a flag or other symbolism or FDR and Truman; I participated in defense of our democracy against fascism, whose beginnings we may be seeing again today, but this time from within.

  18. I believe that the future will inevitably be what Naomi Klein writes about. A collapse due to many factors not the least being that we have no effective government now. We are defenseless against any serious threat from within or without be it from economic, natural, terrorist, disease, or any other source.

    That “shock” will galvanize the country into two groups. One will be the Republican authoritarian wing who will go to extremes to restore the order necessary for effective oligarchy. The other will be “democrats”, lower case “d”, who are unable to go extreme but will fan the dying embers of the Constutional Democratic Republic we once knew. It will be ugly for all but the wealthy who will largely escape to other countries having ruined this one.

    Leadership will emerge. No matter the cause one effect will be economic. If we are very fortunate we will only return economically to 2008 but I believe that it’s more probable that the shock will be much deeper.

    The world will see the consequences of oligarchy. We will suffer them.

    Will this be the chemo/radiation therapy that will kill the bad cells and encourage the good? The death that leads to rebirth?

    That’s certainly one possibility.

  19. One of the (great many) things that President Obama knew and President Trump can’t imagine is that the negative consequences of change come from sudden compared to gradual change.

    Obama could have chosen to let Detroit and Wall Street continue the collapse that he inherited from his predecessor. That would have led to a very traumatic transition involving high unemployment for a long time but arguably the country would have ultimately reached something sustainable eventually as we adapted to a new reality.

    He chose to shoot instead for a more gradual but less traumatic transition. Expensive yes. Better? Yet to be seen.

    President Trump is dismantling any capability to transition to sustainability at all. Cheaper? On the short term maybe but at the expense of more traumatic over the long term.

    Hence the inevitable collapse we will suffer before possibly rectifying all that’s been broken.

  20. As a Vietnam War Combat Infantry Veteran (draftee type), it shivers me to see, read and hear, how we now worship the Warrior Cult of the Pentagon. Since Truman the Constitution’s checks and balances on America’s war making capabilities have been subverted by Congress by writing a virtual blank check to our Presidents since Truman.

    We have sent troops into combat, advisors to maintain dictatorships and supplied the weapons of death to these dictators. We now bomb and send drones to almost any where in the world. It did not begin with Iran in 1953, but coups have also been an important piece of our foreign policy. Millions of dead, wounded and missing around the world because of our War Machine.
    Americans have also suffered as KIA’s in combat. Some of our soldiers make it back home alive, wounded in body, spirit, and mind.

    You wonder what Native Americans thought about our flag as it advanced across the West, or what Blacks Americans thought of Independence Day while living over 100 years under Jim Crow. Woman had to wait in line to be granted the right to vote. Glacially slow progress was made.

    There are plenty of reasons you might not want to hoist the flag today. Honestly I find not flying the flag today because of Trump pitiful and pathetic. If America’s image has been tarnished it started long before Trump.

  21. One can’t help but wonder what Frederick Douglass would have thought about the fetishism of America’s current militarism? Or the obsession of the Democrats for a hopeful coup by the IC to depose the current resident in the WH?

    What of Obama’s use of drones for killing US citizens without that citizen having their day in court? I wonder what Mr Douglass would think?

    I concur with Louie,to abstain from flying your flag because of Trump is pitiful and pathetic.

  22. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

    Donald Trump has not been president forever. It just seems like it. Our ‘fast food’, 24/7 news cycle has made us all more impatient.

    In listening today to the history of slavery in this country and the misery, family separation, violence, and death suffered by African Americans for generations before slavery was outlawed and generations more before civil rights became the law of the land, I was reminded that our present ‘arc’ of Trump has been short though it portends grave injustice and even dissolution to constitutional imperatives.

    Our declaration of independence calls us to high standards, and our constitution provides us the tools to achieve and maintain them. Constant vigilance can be wearying, but the loss of constitutional liberties is not only exhausting but life-threatening as our African American history attests.

  23. As I flew in to LAX from Europe today, I was surrounded by foreigners who couldn’t wait to get here. Shame on us that have forgotten the draw that is America! Don’t let that mango Mussolini ruin our aspirations for a United States. He will be gone soon enough, be proud that You didn’t vote for that buffoon. The few folks I spoke with in Europe all asked me in so many words…WTF, that guy is Crazy!

    Indeed. Happy 4th.

  24. Pete,strawman.

    Sheila Kennedy:” Will We the People rally to the symbolism of Independence Day and reaffirm the importance of the ideals on which our nation was founded?”

    “My fellow U.S.-Americans, we’ve never had a revolution.

    It’s true that slave owner Thomas Jefferson’s July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence (DOI) articulated the revolutionary notion that the people have the right to dissolve a government that no longer serves their interests. But the “American Revolution” was a national independence movement led by wealthy landowners, slave owners, and merchants who feared uprisings from below. They wanted more breathing space to develop further systems of racial oppression, territorial conquest, and class rule. For them national independence was required among other things to prevent social revolution. The last thing the nation’s wealth aristo-republican Founders wanted was a world turned upside down.”

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