Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Answer to an unknown Question

How can Donald Trump – or any political candidate, for that matter – be the answer to an unknown or, at best, vague question?  Mr. Trump’s mantra is “Make America Great Again”, and it seems most of what he is focused on is immigration – specifically illegal immigration.  Yet there is a fundamental problem with his premise of a diminished greatness attributed strictly to immigration, given that the US is predominantly a nation of immigrants (Native Americans being the exception, of course).  I might suggest that even at the turn of the 20th century there were more than a few immigrants who circumvented the legal process.

I was born in the US as were my parents and likely my paternal grandparents (not really known, however).  On my mother’s side are her paternal grandparents who arrived in the US through New Orleans from Syria (so the story goes.  Imagine my disappointment when I finally found out it was not Sicily, never having even heard of Syria.).  On her mother’s side is some Native American blood, but with a tribe unknown it is difficult to make any claim of substance.

My objection to Mr. Trump’s premise is the notion that America is not great, that the shine on the American star has diminished in any way.  Immigrants are not themselves the problem, although a porous national border is a big national security problem.  Corrupt and/or power-hungry politicians have been a problem almost from the beginning of this republic, but service to this country by her citizens has never been a problem.  Men and women have eagerly given freely of themselves in defense of this nation – sometimes for America’s borders but at all times for America’s highest ideals.

Freedom (which is not absolute), justice (which is not always blind), and mercy (which is not always without some pre-conditions).  These are the ideals and principles upon which this nation is founded, and these are the principles by which true greatness is measured.  These are the concepts sought after by the millions who risk everything to come and try to make a home and a future for their children.  Given my muddled ancestry, I am extremely lucky I was born here! 

I am a citizen of the United States but, as with Divine Mercy, citizenship is not something I have earned nor is it something to which I am entitled except by birth.  I have earned the title “United States Marine” and have proudly worn the uniform of the United States, but this did not offer to me any entitlement for my service (peace time though it was).  I chose to wear the uniform out of a sense of duty and gratitude as have millions before me have done and millions have since and will continue to do – untold numbers among these immigrants who were and still are willing to pay a price to earn their citizenship.  With the exception of the famed Navajo Code Talkers of WWII and other Native Americans before and since, we are all immigrants.

No one will claim we do not have a law enforcement problem in this country as it pertains to immigration.  It is a tragedy that many have suffered and died at the hands of illegal immigrants who came to this country with evil intentions, and it is a travesty that our immigration agencies and border patrol officers are fighting a losing battle with no real support from Washington DC.  Yet the greatness of this country is not in question because these officers and citizens are so willing to serve and fight even an uphill battle.

There are many problems we face as a nation, but our greatness is measured by our willingness to fight and face these problems courageously, justly, honestly, and forthrightly; problems that will not go away as long as self-serving politicians are elected and re-elected based on the premise that they alone are the answer to an unarticulated question.  I think maybe we should first form a national question before we begin looking for answers.  For any political candidate to question the “greatness” of this nation, however, is to disqualify that person from the start.

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