My Country: How Do I Right The Wrongs?

Trump presents himself as the ultimate patriot. Upon returning from his visit with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto -- and returning to his original position about not only building a wall but having Mexico pay for it -- he unveiled a new position about promoting patriotism in American Patriotism in schools: "American schoolchildren will be taught greater respect for patriotic values, Donald Trump promised on Thursday, as he followed up his surprise trip to Mexico and key anti-immigration speech by stepping up his appeal to 'Americanism.'" The right wing journalist Ann Coulter tweeted, "GO TRUMP."

But form doesn't always follow function. Trump supports forms of patriotism like saluting the flag and standing for the national anthem, but unlike so many Americans he has not risked anything to protect our country. (See Trump draft record). Why would we expect anything else from a guy who has built his career on showmanship rather than substance? He doesn't get that the Constitution protects speech in many forms and protesting with patriotic symbols is one that has been used since the very beginning our nation (history of protests).

Trump displays his ignorance of democracy in general and ours in particular by suggesting that we should all have the same opinion. Democracy is designed for negotiating different ideas and interests. Totalitarian governments have one unified thought pattern, often dictated by the government, or try to anyway.Yet he does not honor, identify and admire the various groups that make up America groups. A requisite for the functioning of our nation.

Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the singing of the national anthem, called patriotic by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, is right in line with a long history of American protest. President Obama comments that Kaepernick was exercising his constitutional rights in not singing the national anthem. How lucky we are to have a history of peaceful protest rather than knifings and bombings so common in the Middle East. The complexities of the constitution seem to elude Trump.

The democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine supports Colin's protest while acknowledging that he himself would not choose to express himself this way. We, too, would not choose this form of protest, because it is so raw and upsetting for those families who have sacrificed their loved ones for freedom. However, we are grateful for Colin's role-modeling of peaceful protest and use of his celebrity status to help improve the country. Unlike Trump, who uses his status to con others. But that is typical Trump. He criticizes Hillary's abuse of her status to grant access and, in some cases favors, to those who contributed to her foundation -- yet we don't find that he has used his billions to help others. In fact we have heard nothing about his charitable giving! To be clear, we are not defending Hillary here. We are merely pointing out that we doubt his legitimacy to "throw the first stone" when he himself never puts others first.

Like most things, symbols can be used for good or for ill. Those of us who said others faiths' prayers daily in our public schools before the Supreme Court declared this illegal, know only too well that one can respectfully mouth words without believing them. We have also seen symbols morph in their meaning. The peace symbol was a sign of protest in the '60's despite its original intent to symbolize living together in harmony. Religious garb, particularly for women can be a sign of respect or of oppression.

Things just aren't as simple as Trump makes it sound. If all us of honored every patriotic symbol without advocating for American freedoms to apply to everyone in our society, it would do nothing to assure that persons of color, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities, and immigrants are treated equally.Trump is superb at mocking and belittling, however, he has not demonstrated how he will improve the lives of the majority of Americans.

If Trump wants to make America great again, he needs to open his arms to all Americans, respect their differences, and treat all groups and individuals with respect and compassion. It may be too late for him to persuade the American voters that he embraces African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Muslims as our democracy requires, "with liberty and justice for all." His claims about the adverse impact of immigrants on the safety of Americans have been debunked (Immigration lessens crime). Trump is a rabble-rouser who does not allow himself to be confused by the facts. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." These people simply ignore facts that conflict with their opinions. In a presidential candidate -- no less a president -- this is extremely dangerous.