Last week’s news cycle was a surreal dramatization of campy anti-communist propaganda films that culminated with a White House press conference that offended basic American values. First, Russian spies corroborated with a vainglorious American presidential candidate. U.S. intelligence leaked information about the betrayal while a sitting president issued harsh, retaliatory sanctions. In response, the Manchurian candidate’s national security advisor secretly assuaged concerns to a Russian ambassador. To cover his tracks, the traitor lied to the Vice President whose credibility is exploited to silence emergent questions from the media. Despite knowledge of deception, the new president maintained said security advisor for 18 days until a news outlet exposed the scandal. Despite clear evidence of wrongdoing, crybaby-in-chief Donald Trump tried to manipulate us into blaming the media for his dishonesty and poor decision-making.
This is not how Americans do things. I was raised in a rural community by blue-collar Christian parents who voted Republican their entire lives. From day one, they taught me honesty, trustworthiness, and humility were indispensable moral virtues that mattered more than money, status, or power. To them, ends meant nothing if your character was tarnished in the process of achieving desired outcomes. If I got into trouble for breaking rules, I knew that I screwed up and, therefore, didn’t have a right to blame authority figures who held me accountable. See, from our perspective, we had to be answerable for our actions. Blaming others for my mistakes, regardless of intention, was inconceivable because I felt a sense of shame that could only be allayed through personal atonement. Consequently, there was no gray area. When I made a mistake, I owned up to it and accepted the consequences of my actions.
Donnie’s recent press conference would have earned him harsh spanking in my house. When confronted with wrongdoing, he blamed the intelligence community and media for holding him accountable? Meanwhile, his surrogates insist that he is above reproach? In the United States, the president’s authority is based on popular consent. In this regard, he owes us deference, not the reverse. Hence, when the media raises legitimate questions regarding information that Donnie, himself, admits true, he is mandated to provide us an explanation. I get that, as a trust fund baby turned businessman who, from his luxurious Manhattan penthouse, celebrated the Great Recession while everyday Americans were left homeless, this dynamic is something new; however, his entitlement to deference STOPPED the moment he became president. At that point, he answers to the “little people” that he has spent his entire life disregarding. If he cannot, or will not, accept personal responsibility for his actions, he has no justification to claim fault as We the People are the real victims of his deficient moral character.
In this context, we need a critical press more than ever. No doubt, the mainstream media has its problems and should certainly be held accountable for blatant bias. However, conservative news outlets, such as Wall Street Journal, FOX News, Washington Times, and Breitbart, are biased toward the Trump administration and, consequently, apt to overlook and/or minimize corruption. True patriots, who place country before partisanship, are pained by such treachery. In fact, we feel insulted by any effort to delegitimize our cherished cultural values, political institutions, and personal integrity for the sole purpose of propping up an emperor who is clearly naked. Thus, it is crucial that we support the media against Trump’s manipulative attacks when they report valid claims and raise important inquiries. Failure to do so is an unequivocal betrayal of our Republic to autocracy, plain and simple.
Luckily, these shenanigans present an opportunity to fight back. All Americans value personal responsibility and, at some level, know this incident is unreflective of what we, as a country, represent. We’re a humble nation that takes pride in our accomplishments but willingly acknowledges fault when confronted with our misconduct. Trump is not entitled to separate standards simply because he is president. To the contrary, in that role, he is a moral leader that must be held to a higher standard because his example influences everyone, especially our children. Americans intuitively understand this indisputable fact and rightly feel offended when elected officials place themselves above the people they are supposed serve. In such cases, it is essential that we remind one another who are, what we believe, and why we value such ideals. Furthermore, it is vital that we point out when Trump transgresses these moral imperatives. Failure to do so normalizes anti-Americanism while, simultaneously, desensitizing us to autocracy. We cannot forget who we are!