The American Revolution inspired the world. Our founders refuted the ridiculous notion of the divine right rule of monarchs. The French spread our ideals throughout Europe. The 19th century saw the awakening of people to their right of self-determination, which carried on into the 20th century. Then, the American republic, built upon (and expanding) its foundation of freedom, saved the world from evil empire builders – the nazi/fascists on the battlefield and communism through containment and diplomacy.

We were that “shining city on a hill” envisioned by John Winthrop, according to the CBC’s Neal Macdonald. He elaborates: ” Centuries later, American presidents would return repeatedly to Winthrop’s hilltop-city metaphor, the first invocation of American exceptionalism. JFK. Barack Obama. And Ronald Reagan, adding his own words: ‘a tall, proud city … teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.’”

And now, Mr. Macdonald? “Trump is America, and America, it turns out, isn’t so exceptional after all.”

So, what happened? Cowardice. Any person perceived as different became terrifying. Fear, of course, leads to hatred – to hide the cowards’ yellow streaks. About 4.5 percent of Americans identify as homosexual, bisexual or transgender. With 327 million of us, that comes to fewer than 15 million people. I think the other 312 million of us are safe.

Of the above group, about 1.6 million people identify as transgender, less than a third of one percent. Yet cowards attack these threatening hordes to the delight of other cowards. About 7,000 desperate Central Americans have fled violence in their disintegrating countries, seeking asylum and protection. They actually believe in the ideals, promise and greatness of the United States.

Our Coward-in-Chief acts like they are the Visigoths at the gate and not men and women pushing strollers, carrying babies or holding the hands of small children. Send down 15,000 troops as a campaign stunt. Threaten slaughter. And now one of Oklahoma’s senatorial Apostles of Ignorance, Scaredy Cat Jim Inhofe, has endorsed a border barrier.

While Vladimir Putin gloats over the decline of American influence in the world, the man he helped elect pulls us out of one international agreement after another, now declaring himself a “nationalist” in opposition to the message of universal liberties, freedom and respect engendered by our founders. Their message transformed the world. Our leaders led the way.

Trump is a problem. But he’s not THE problem. He’s only the festering pustule of anti-American cowardice that the right-wing hate media has been spreading for 30 years, dimming the lights of our once shining city. You can’t lead the world or promote American interests while cowering behind a wall.

(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party. Local Democrats meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in Room 112 of the Morris Building at Red River Vo-Tech on West Bois D’Arc.)

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