Merriam Webster offers the following definition for “transaction”
a business deal: an occurrence in which goods, services, or money are passed from one person, account, etc., to another
a communicative action or activity involving two parties or things that reciprocally affect or influence each other
Donald Trump has dealt in transactions all his life. Most of his Cabinet and major advisors are also men and women for whom getting the best deal is the prime objective. We give you something we have (goods, products, services) in exchange for something we want (money). This is how business works. But not necessarily how a country works.
When Trump was running for office, he blasted the U.S. trade agreements, particularly NAFTA and claimed that he would make the “best deals” for the United States. He continues to blame trade deficits for our mounting national debt, even though the one doesn’t have a thing to do with the other. So even in an area that should be his “wheelhouse” i.e., business and trade, Trump is clueless. He has blustered and threatened other countries, but to date, has achieved nothing. So much winning.
You cannot be the leader of the greatest (yes, we are great now) country in the free world simply by making deals. You also have to be willing to defend ideas and concepts such as honor, freedom, religious liberty, and human dignity. Since the beginning of our nation, men and women have laid down their lives in defense of these values. And not just for the United States, but for freedom-loving people around the world.
Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister of the U.K. framed it best when she said “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.”
Donald Trump and the leadership of the GOP have lost sight of this. They want to take us back to the “America First” groupthink of the 1930s that held America back while fascism ran rampant throughout Europe. Their only concern is in “winning”; however they might define that. Winning is not depriving 23 million people from access to healthcare; that is losing. Winning is not establishing a commission to keep people from voting; that is losing. Winning is not deporting people who have served in our military, but don’t have official citizenship yet; that is losing. Winning is not spending billions to build a wall that nobody wants and that won’t work anyway; that is losing.
When Donald Trump told Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Friday at the G-20 Summit that he was “honored” to meet him, Trump showed that he not only cannot spell that word, but that he also has no concept of what honor means. In fact, he defiles the meaning of the word.
When Donald Trump accepted the word of Vladimir Putin that Russia did not interfere in our elections, over the word of every, single intelligence agency in the United States, he violated his duty and his oath of office to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” But then the word “duty” has no meaning for Trump who received five draft deferments from serving in the Vietnam War. The words “oath” or “truth” have no meaning to a man who demonstrably lies nearly every day of his life.
While claiming he would Make America Great Again, instead Trump has revealed an ugly underside of racism, misogyny, and religious intolerance that many believed had disappeared from American culture. Perhaps this is a good thing. We now know that this evil still exists within our midst and must be rooted out.
We are now governed by an administration that can only operate on transactional terms. They make deals with the devil when it suits their needs. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said yesterday that the United States and Russia share the “same goals” in Syria. No, no, we do not. But duty, honor, truth do not factor into their thinking.
There are many who wonder if America will survive as we know it under a Trump presidency. There will be damage, both to our own self-perception and they way we are perceived around the world. The G-20 Summit meeting made that clear. But we need to remember Margaret Thatcher’s words. We are not defined by our history. We are defined by our philosophy, by the beliefs and values that have made our nation great. These are deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of most Americans, and have been passed from parent to child throughout our history.
Last week we celebrated the signing of our Declaration of Independence. Let us once again acknowledge the words that closed the Declaration:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
These words still ring true in the hearts of Americans today. Donald Trump is an aberration – a dangerous one who should not be taken for granted – but We The People are stronger, braver, and truer than he could ever imagine. We will fight. We will resist. We will win.