A PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Trump’s Big Lies & Little Tweets

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for a good marketing phrase or slogan. Words have always been more dependable than people in my life. When listening to the radio today, I heard a commercial for Lexus, the luxury car manufacturer. It was one of those recently produced spots that focus on how we find ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ad urged listeners to access their special website. The hook is “People First” and I thought, yeah, that is exactly where our focus should be. Suddenly, a bell clanged loudly in my head.

Donald Trump pitched himself as the president who would put “America First.” It has a nice ring to it, but it is far from an original idea. The phrase was used by Charles Lindbergh in 1941, while he was touring the US as the leading voice of the “America First” Committee — an isolationist group of some 800,000 members who claimed England was trying to drag America into a war. Not only was Lindbergh a known racist, history has shown that his isolationist and anti-global policies would have given Europe, and perhaps even Russia, to Hitler. He was proposing an alliance with Germany during World War II.

Ronald Regan’s 1980 Presidential campaign used the slogan “Let’s make America great again.” Reagan masterfully exploited the anger in the US over crime increases in the inner cities and the happenings in Iran during Carter’s administration. A group of Iranian college students who supported the Iranian Revolution took over the US Embassy in Tehran. The US hostages were held for 444 days and were finally released after Reagan took office.

Trump saw the loss of American jobs to offshore production centers had fired up the long simmering resentment of workers in this country. He also utilized the apparent racist reaction to the African American president who preceded him. The Donald was instrumental in starting a conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in America, therefore not eligible to be president. Trump appropriated the slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again” and “America First” from the past. Most intelligent and aware US citizens believe Trump’s thinking is regressive and backward-looking. Trump has zero ability to solve the problems we face. Complaining about a challenge is NOT delivering a result.

The final line of the opening remarks at the Lexus website reads, “During good times and bad, when we take care of people first, the rest will follow.” It’s a standard car dealer pitch, but it contains a clear message. Mankind, or the people of the earth, are indeed an isolated group. As of this writing, we don’t know for certain of any other peopled colony in our universe, so we are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

As Trump concentrates on America First, I am sure he’s not in a particularly good mental place when dealing with all the things he cannot control or dismiss. That’s why the man is hammering out an increasing number of stupid tweets that are totally irrelevant to the crisis at hand.

In the Woody Allen movie Annie Hall, Woody’s character is in a theater line with Annie, played by Diane Keaton. They are both drawn into an overly loud conversation by a pontificating professor. This man claims to know everything about Canadian writer, philosopher and media guru Marshall McLuhan. Woody’s character, Alvy, gets quite irritated, and in one of the best fourth wall breaks in motion picture history, Alvy pulls another man into frame. The man is Marshall McLuhan himself who says, “I hear-I heard what you were saying. You-you know nothing of my work. You mean my whole fallacy is wrong.  How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.”

Most people loved the putdown of the arrogant elitist but notice the deeper play on words. McLuhan says, You mean my whole fallacy is wrong.” Over the years, I have frequently thought of that sentence. Most people base their words and actions on premises, while fallacies are someone’s mistaken belief, especially when based on an unsound argument. Once McLuhan used the word, fallacy, he admitted his proposal was based on bad information. If a president creates a fallacy and bases his administration and every decision on that unsound judgement, how could things possibly go well?

Earlier in the same scene from Annie Hall, the target of the ire was discussing movies when he slammed the great film maker Federico Fellini with this line, “You know, you get the feeling that he’s not absolutely sure what it is he wants to say.” No one knowledgeable about cinema would ever say that Italian director Fellini didn’t know what he was trying to say, rather they would tell you he was demanding the viewer fill in the blanks. There are no blanks with Donald Trump. He has stuffed the heads of his moronic followers with every baseless bit he wants them to believe. Whether what he says is true or a lie simply doesn’t matter. His entire fallacy is wrong.

The President of United States doesn’t understand that people of our world are all one, large collective, and things that happen in Wuhan or West Virginia affect us all. Donald Trump’s open campaign against wearing a virus protection mask has produced yet another divide. Here’s proof, straight from a kid on a beach, “I mean, if he’s not wearing a mask, I’m not going to wear a mask. If he’s not worried, I’m not worried.” And there you have it, folks. The fallacy is that if everyone else is wearing a mask, you don’t need to. It’s much like the drunken logic of, “Well, if everyone else on the road is sober, I’ll be just fine driving smashed.”

Do you remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in school? The words are simple, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Trump talks a lot about the flag and the importance of American patriotism, but he’s missing the point of the pledge. We are not pledging to the president, we are stating our loyalty to the flag and the country it represents and asserting our belief that this country is indivisible. If Trump sincerely believes that America should be first, then he needs to protect all citizens from any enemy, visible or invisible. Never forget “liberty and justice for all.” America starts with “We the people,” not just Republicans or Democrats but all the people. Trump has done nothing to make us more indivisible. To the contrary, he has made us more divided. It’s a big world, and he is a small man. God help us if he gets reelected.

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