Who Are We As Americans?

In the event others are feeling the way I am these days, please excuse me if you happen to notice tears flowing down my cheeks because of the state of our country. Every day seems to begin a new chapter of scandal in the White House. Where and when is it going to end?

Each day brings a new crisis in President Donald Trump's administration as the citizens learn about the intervention of the Russian government into our politics, our government and increasingly in many other aspects of our technology and lifestyles. All of this and more as the facts are revealed beyond any reasonable doubt that the Russians intervened in our political elections to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. After more than six months, President Trump remains in a state of denial about this. The Trump lies are an anathema to good government.

Incredibly, even if President Trump is not directly involved with the daily crises in Washington, his hand-picked choices who lead his cabinet and major departments, as well as unqualified family members, all have seemed to share a role in the self-destruction of the federal government. Can this administration find its way back?

Surely, others must be tearful about how this country continues to lose its focus as a world leader. This administration has surrendered our leadership role on climate change and ignored all sense of humanity on issues of human rights. Now the administration is turning our educational institutions into places for the privileged through charter schools and cutting educational budgets, leaving ordinary students out of higher education opportunities.

While these aren't easy issues to address, the Trump administration has revealed a disregard for ordinary people in trying to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act that was achieved through painstaking work by the administration of former President Barack Obama. Had the Trump leadership studied the history of health care dating back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it would have realized this was not going to be an easy lift.

Which raises the question: Who are we as Americans today? Having just celebrated the birth of the nation on July 4, we may need to reflect on what was intended by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the farmers, tradesmen and business owners who came out of their homes and communities to fight the "red coats" and defend what it meant back then to be "Americans."

Has America lost the spirit to safeguard the principles by which American democracy was established? Does the contribution of our current and past servicemen and women have less value than the colonial volunteers? And -- the even more troubling issue today -- do personal greed and political party affiliation trump the founding principles of the Constitution?

What should surface from this writing is for every American to ask the question: What do you want your America to look like in the years, decades and generations to come? What are you willing to do to make it so?

As fundamental as these questions may seem on the surface, my thoughts race back to my induction into the military some 56 years ago. Along with other recruits being inducted into the United States Army, we swore to "uphold the Constitution and defend the nation against all enemies foreign and domestic." We did it then and now we need to be sure our government is secure.

Furthermore, if the presidential leadership is misdirected, we need to speak out with single-mindedness. In 1899, U.S. Senator Carl Schurz reminded Americans that we will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country -- when right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right."

So whether a citizen or not, whether a businessman or woman, educator, government worker or veteran, what are you willing to do to safeguard your way of life for your families for generations to come? We understood it back in the 1960s when President John F. Kennedy beckoned to us then: "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." That time has come once again.

Alvin Rivera is a Puebloan, veteran and former staff member in President Bill Clinton's administration. In October 1962, his combat-ready airborne unit was stationed in Florida during the Cuban missile crisis.

Source : http://www.chieftain.com/opinion/ideas/who-are-we-as-americans/article_43fdc334-4629-5581-851d-ea3979603862.html

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