On February 27, 2016, Hillary Clinton said that “I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness.” Of course Republicans scoffed at the statement. So today at the Republican National Convention, they are going to tell us how to “Make America Safe Again.”
Let me guess the solution. More police? More order? More patriotism? Sounds a lot like Turkey’s solution to civil unrest. And that is what is going on in America – civil unrest. The Republicans have security like never before at their convention, and they want to make America safe again…for themselves.
But what about the rest of us? We want safety as well. Everybody does. But how do we do that? Well, how about rule of law that helps protect Americans’ financial security and not just their physical security? How about a police force that protects us from reckless drivers, not just from poor minority drivers who made a tiny traffic error that hurts nobody? Perhaps a police force that meets with communities to weed out real criminals, and works with our youth in a nurturing way to protect them from criminal recruitment? How about a police program to mentor young, minority fathers who get in trouble trying to feed their families, instead of imprisoning them?
Meanwhile, we also need to build a better relationship with our banks. One where the bank help us prosper in order to help themselves prosper as well.
We need to build a better relationship with our health care providers and our pharmaceutical companies, where the primary service they provide is to heal us when we get sick.
We need to build a better relationship with our elected representatives, where their role is to fight hard for the interests and concerns of the people they represent. Whether it be rural Virginia, urban America or the sprawling suburbs of Las Vegas.
Maybe the Republicans’ theme tonight should be “we’ve helped stoke your fear and now we’ll get all those nasty people making you afraid”. Fear, of course, is the unofficial mantra of the GOP. Fear the outside world. Fear change. Fear diversity. Fear protest and dissent. In short, fear all the things that make America great.
For his part, Donald Trump likes to disparage people outraged by his racist comments by calling them “PC.” I call it free speech. Trump wants us to be afraid of protesters, afraid of the press, afraid of immigrants and afraid of Muslims. Sounds like Donald Trump thinks that to make America safe again, we have to repeal the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution…and replace it with the Second Amendment.
We are global citizens. We are diverse. We have the right to protest and disagree when we feel that our rights are being violated. We have the right to come together when our government and authority figures and monopolistic corporations threaten our freedom.
But we also have a right to demand that our government care about our well-being and try to foster a nation where opportunity and charity and community are paramount. I feel just as safe (if not safer) around people with “Black Lives Matter” signs as with people in blue uniforms with guns and batons. The GOP convention goers do not.
A kinder, more loving America is not a weak, socialist country. It’s a nation that values compassion and human rights and health and expression.
The Declaration of Independence, considered a statement of war against British rule, said this: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Happiness — quoted in our founding document. Not the right to absolute safety from our enemies, but the right to pursue happiness, right at the top of the list of national priorities.
Income inequality is a major cause of unhappiness and even civil unrest. To the extent that America is unsafe, it is in part because Americans are unequal. One step in making us safe, then, is to stem this inequality and create opportunity and income mobility for all. Unfortunately, I somehow doubt that any of this will be advocated in Republicans’ speeches tonight.