Friday, January 12, 2018

What it means to be "American"

President Trump often compares himself to President Reagan. But, how does he truly stack up against his predecessor?

We cannot let the outrage over the President's now confirmed multiple denigration of Haiti and the entire African continent as "shithole countries" to pass without comment. There is no wiggle room to interpret this as anything other than, as Dick Durbin witnessed and described, vile, vulgar, and racist.

Quoting Ronald Reagan, from his last address in office:

America represents something universal in the human spirit. I received a letter not long ago from a man who said, "You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won't become a German or a Turk." But then he added, "Anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American."

President Trump's hometown newspaper, the New York Daily News

As the great essayist G. K. Chesterton observed, "America is the only nation in the world founded on a creed." The welcoming of immigrants seeking safety, seeking opportunity, seeking a better life limited only by their own abilities and imaginations, lies at the core of that creed and is the foundation upon which America was built. The hindsight of history informs us that America was also founded on the near eradication of native indigenous peoples and cultures, driven by a belief in manifest destiny. Anyone watching Antiques Roadshow knows the skyrocketing monetary value of art and clothing objects created by American Indians, artifacts which somehow survived even as the people themselves were ethnically cleansed from their homelands. Today, at least, most Americans appreciate the richness of our indigenous cultures which were nearly lost to us, and which are an integral members of the great American tapestry.

The image of the United States as a melting pot was popularized by Israel Zangwill's 1908 play The Melting Pot

It is the blending of the cultural riches which have flowed together in America which uniquely defines us as a country. That we are not a country of a particular race, particular nationality, particular religion, or particular ethnicity, but a country of all of those.

From a political viewpoint and Republican control of the Presidency and Congress...

If the Republican ideal is to value families, our evolving immigration policies and enforcement—which we see breaking up families on the evening news—run counter to that ideal. If the Republican ideal is to grow the economy by exporting more American goods, then smearing an entire continent, home to the world's most rapidly growing national economies despite the challenges of widespread poverty, then we have just closed the door on that opportunity. That, along with U.S. withdrawal from global agreements, has effectively abdicated U.S. global economic leadership to China.

Returning closer to home, Carrier laid off another 215 workers on top of prior layoffs as it continues to move jobs to Mexico. This, despite soon-to-be President Trump's promises and soon-to-be Vice President Pence, in one of his last acts as governor, granting Carrier $7 million in tax incentives breaks to keep jobs in the U.S. Nevertheless, we are obliged to note that many "American" HVAC brands have manufacturing facilities in Mexico. Rushing to buy another brand does nothing to support "made in America." Lastly, 40 cents worth of every dollar of goods we import from Mexico was actually "made in America"—meaning that shutting down NAFTA will only hurt Americans.

We've been on hiatus as we digest the implications of the changes to the tax code which have been signed into law, and the real possibility we need to move prior to retirement. We expect to return next with our recap of President Trump's first year in office.

More Reading

The anti-immigration—including backing proposals to cut legal immigration by half—policies of the current administration run counter to American values and historical Republican thought, and directly and adversely impact future growth of the American economy.

  • Orrenius, Pia. Benefits of Immigration Outweigh the Costs, George W. Bush Insitute, 2016, retrieved 12 January 2018. LINK
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