We now know Trump: Do we know ourselves?
Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson nails it in a column in the Washington Post: President Donald Trump is at war with the essential idea of the American republic. Now Americans have to decide if they are as well. Some excerpts:
And still it is difficult for me to write the words: “The president of the United States is a racist.” The implications are horrible, but unavoidable. For starters, it means the president is blind to the contributions of African migrants to our country. It means that the president has undermined U.S. foreign policy across a strategic continent, and in the process, alienating people disproportionately prone to like the United States and respect its global role. It means that many Americans of color understandably view Trump as the president of white America, sharpening a legacy of distrust that will not quickly fade. Conversely, it means bigots also view Trump as the president of white America, providing energy and legitimacy to some of the worst people in the country.
And it means the American president does not understand or appreciate the American story. It is the story of millions of migrants taken from Africa by force, stacked in ships like coal and transported to a “free” country that stole their labor, broke up their families and denied their humanity. The story of a great nation born with a fatal flaw — a shameful racial exception to its highest ideals. The story of blacks in America is one of a people who refused to accept their dehumanization, fought for the Union, rose up from slavery, defied bombings, police dogs and water cannons to defeat segregation, demanded that the country be true to what it said on paper and made America a better place for all its citizens. It is one of history’s greatest stories of the human spirit, and Trump knows nothing of it. He is indifferent to our defining miracle. And there is no way to lead a country you do not comprehend.
Yet some Republicans and conservatives will never be reconciled with a Trump presidency. The reason is not one of tender sensibilities, but of deep conviction. Racism is not a single issue among many, to be weighed equally with tax or trade policy. Trump is at war with the central ideal of the Republic — a vision of strength through inclusion and equality that makes our country special and exceptional….
This debate will now be decided on countless private battlefields of conscience. We have been called to be part of the long American story, to help determine the nature and promise of our country. It is both an honor and a burden. We have no idea how this struggle will unfold. But we know how it must end: with a president who raises our sights instead of lowering our standards.