July Fourth is a holiday every American can embrace. As the story goes, on July 4, 1776, representatives from the 13 colonies gathered at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to declare independence from England.
This was the first major step toward the establishment of the United States with what at the time was nothing short of a radical idea.
Unlike any government since the Greek state of Athens and, at times, the Romans, the founders established a governance structure that would be based on the rule of law. Our Constitution (ratified June 21, 1788) invokes no monarchs and no gods. Instead, we became a country of laws — made by people to govern themselves. It is a representative government with important limitations that defend the minority from the extremes of the majority.
While our country will always be plagued by imperfections, we have always strived to do better (even if it takes much longer than it should to right some wrongs). Today, the democratic principles that were set in motion in 1776 have been replicated in one form or another around the world.
No form of governance has done more to ensure the liberty of its people.
A particularly unique aspect of the July Fourth celebration is that, for the most part, it has been a sacrosanct event. That means it is an event that is too important to be interfered with … it is one day a year when Americans from all walks of life (immigrants included) and of every political and religious persuasion can celebrate what our founding principles represent to us and the world.
Harry Truman was the only president to participate, although his speech in 1951 was an update about the Korean War.
Naturally, that means Donald Trump has to jump into the middle of things. As of this writing, Mr. Trump is planning to insert himself into the picture by delivering an address at the Lincoln Memorial during the July Fourth celebration … complete with a flyover by Air Force One (gag).
As Senators Tom Udall. D-New Mexico, Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, expressed in a recent letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, “We are deeply troubled that the president’s involvement at the event will turn the long-standing, nonpartisan celebration into a de facto campaign rally conducted at taxpayer expense that will serve to further divide rather than unify the nation.”
Of course, this interference isn’t remotely surprising. With his military parade plans going nowhere, where else is a bombastic narcist like Trump going to find such a wholesome event to make himself the center of attention?
Foreshadowing what is to come, a recent tweet from Mr. Trump said the event will include “major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!” Wow, I can’t wait (not).
There is a vague chance Trump will stay “on script” during his address, limiting his comments to praise about himself and his administration and token comments extolling American greatness, plus a nod to our servicemen and women (minus transgender service people).
More likely than not, he’ll use this as a campaign rally with quips about those “angry Democrats” and at least one comment or two about Hilary Clinton and the Mueller investigation.
No one knows how much extra money Trump’s interference will cost, but some figures suggest a minimum of $7 million (the Trump campaign still owes Washington D.C. $7 million of the $27.3 million for the 2017 inauguration).
Not that public money matters much to this president.
According to a recent analysis by The Huffington Post, Trump’s golf trips alone have cost taxpayers at least $102 million (including $81 million for trips to his Mar-a-lago property, $17 million for trips to his New Jersey property, and $4 million for trips to his properties in Scotland and California). Not included were 52 trips to a course at Andrew Air Force Base and a Trump property in Virginia.
Personally, my family will be steadfastly ignoring the circus in D.C., opting instead to join the traditional and lively celebrations in our local community. While Trump will undoubtedly invoke his trademark and darkly tainted “MAGA” in D.C., we prefer to extoll a far more important idea that is repeated daily by none other than our local Northwest Public Television. ... “We believe in the capacity for goodness and potential for greatness.” With luck, someday this inspiring idea will become the guiding motto of our United States.
Douglas Call is a microbiologist. He and his family have lived on the Palouse for more than 20 years.