For quite a while now I’ve been feeling that we’ve moved into the next phase of the American Revolution.
Among the previous phases were the original American Revolution, the Civil War, demand for suffrage, the New Deal and the battle for civil rights from the 1950s through the ‘6os. Then came legislation further to inscribe within our spare original Constitution more of the soaring vow from the Declaration of Independence:
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. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
And the Preamble to the Constitution, which I’ve always figured should be the core of any political campaign promise:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Somewhere in all that came the insidious and subversive Revolt of the Oligarchs, which has been an underworld assault on all the promises of the Constitution. Indeed, since — and thanks to Mother Jones — facts emerged about the Koch Bros’ secret conclaves of obscenely wealthy people, I’ve been calling this movement toward cloaked fascism (“cloaked,” because the eventual purpose has nothing to do with autocracy or nationalism but everything to do with “libertarian” capitalism), the Neu Wannsee Conference, The Final Solution to Democracy.
Then November 8, 2016. Then Trump.
Trump has been the figurehead and sparkplug for this American crisis: once again, We The People take to the streets with placards and chants instead of rakes and rifles; and we patiently and with masks or mailed-in ballots storm the polls to re-affirm and expand the core principles of the country and its people. That is, us.
So I was really happy to read Timothy Egan’s Fourth of July essay in the Times, “Let’s Finish The American Revolution: Our nation’s founding was a mess of contradictions. We must push America closer to its ideals.”
(Yes! Let’s do it!)
To my delight, Egan writes (beautifully) about Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore, and the meaning of it all:
As baffling as it is to find statues of traitors, slaveholders and killers of Union soldiers ensconced in many a prominent square, consider the historical discordance of Custer County, S.D.
The hard beauty of the Black Hills, sacred land to Native Americans, overshadows the county, the main town and the state park, all named for George Armstrong Custer. The hard history was shaped by the slayer of those native people. Custer’s willful trespass into territory promised by treaty to the Sioux set the stage for the last violent encounters between New World and Old.
Just under 20 miles from Custer is Mount Rushmore, which President Trump plans to visit this Fourth of July weekend. A mere seven miles from Custer is the Native American Rushmore — a still unfinished carving of the Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse, 641 feet long and 563 feet high.
Here is the American paradox in a grid of stark geology.
Isn’t that a terrific perception? And then came this (which pleased me a lot, since it touches a bit on what I wrote yesterday):
Before we get to them [the Five Faces], let’s talk about him. Trump wants a fireworks display in the pine forest around Rushmore in the middle of fire season. There will be no required social distancing for the crowd. And the world’s most powerful narcissist will be projecting his dream to have his face carved next to those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
There you have it — everything that is so awful about him in one appearance, putting the lives of American citizens and a national landmark at risk to protect his eggshell ego.