This is “American Dream Week” in Trumplandia. Go ahead, laugh. We’ll wait. Yes, yes it is the most insipid and ironic theme week announcement yet from Donald Trump’s politically and culturally clueless administration.
When John F. Kennedy dreamed, it was of landing a man on the moon, making great leaps in science for the advancement of all people. In Trump’s world, we have a “science adviser” who scoffs at the 1969 moon landing and refuses to believe climate change is real, much like his boss. “The Apollo moon landings are the biggest fraud in mankind’s history, even worse than all that global warming nonsense,” says newly appointed adviser David Gelernter “In the modern age, we have never been outside the Earth’s magnetic field. With the exception of the alleged 24 human beings who flew lunar flights in the Apollo program during the four-year period spanning 1968 through 1972, all human spaceflights have taken place in low Earth orbit or below.” At least Gelernter doesn’t believe the moon landing was fabricated on a television sound stage, our grandmother’s favorite conspiracy theory.
When Dr. Martin Luther King said it, “I have a dream” meant equal treatment for all, where character, not color, defined a man. Trump has leaned “far right police state” in many of his speeches, and was backed until recently by the alt-right mouthpiece Breitbart. He went so far last week as to urge police to use excessive force during arrests. Trump’s base is largely made up of white, anti-immigrant, anti-gay rights conservative men. And a few far-out television evangelists. And while King’s views on gays and transsexuals is debated, but many (including his wife) say he would have embraced the gay rights movement as extension of the civil rights movement. As a Christian minister whose whole philosophy was based on God’s love of all people, King certainly would have not have turned away transsexuals from the bathroom door, or banned them from military service as did Trump.
When Teddy Roosevelt dreamed, it was to establish 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks and 18 national monuments on over 230 million acres of public land. Trump has already downgraded national monument areas to make them vulnerable to review in terms of dollars and cents – a real estate deal for the highest bidder. The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, a 1.3-million-acre site of stunning beauty and ancient Native American petroglyphs, could be the first to be lost to development, or fenced as a private park for a wealthy investor.
When Frances Perkins dreamed, it was of fair wages and economic justice. As Labor Secretary she was the first woman to hold a Cabinet position and was an architect of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Today women make 78 cents for every dollar earned by men in the United States, and black women only 63 cents for every dollar. Within Trump’s own administration, the wage disparity has more than tripled – like it was in the 1980s. About 74 percent of Trump staffers are men, compared to 52 percent of Barak Obama’s staffers. (“Women deserve equal pay for equal work,” First Daughter Ivanka Trump said to no one.) Tennis great Serena Williams this week pointed out the enormity of resolving gender and racial disparity, which Trump has refused to acknowledge. “The cycles of poverty, discrimination and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles,” Williams said.
Decade after decade, hundreds of years, refugees and immigrants have landed on America’s shores in search of a dream of basic freedoms of mind and spirit. The dream to worship freely, to earn a decent wage, a good education, to support extended families, safety from tyrannical tyrants and violent conflict. In six months we’ve watched as Trump has threatened our environment, jeopardized our schools, embittered allies, upended financial safeguards, and generally stomped on civility, decorum and tradition.
American Dream Week may be just another marketing gimmick by the Trump Administration, a photo opportunity at best designed to tug the patriotic heartstrings. But the American Dream is real, and it’s up to good people to forever keep it alive. Dumping Trump is a good place to begin. And toss the intolerant Mike Pence out with him.