Trump’s Authoritarian Perversion Of The 4th Of July

243 years ago, America declared independence from a tyrant. Today, Trump is trying to turn the 4th of July into a celebration of himself - a tyrant.
President Trump during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AP)

President Trump during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AP)

In spite of the way many Republicans conflate the two, patriotism is not nationalism. Loyalty to our country is not equivalent to loyalty to the President. Celebrating Independence Day is not about celebrating the President. Nevertheless, Donald Trump persisted in his endeavor to turn the 4th of July into an authoritarian ego boost. The event is called “Salute to America,” but in reality, it is really just President Trump’s salute to himself.

President Trump is making a mockery of the day Americans celebrate our Declaration of Independence from a tyrant, by trying to make the historic day a celebration of a tyrant. The 4th of July is supposed to be a non-partisan moment of unity where Americans celebrate our country. Instead, Trump is holding a campaign-style event at the National Mall.

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President Trump has long wanted a military parade. Last year, Trump sought a $92 million military parade but did not get his way. In this July 4th event, Trump is finally getting the reality TV moment he’s always wanted – all while thousands of migrants suffer inhumane conditions in detention camps. The Washington Post reported that the Trump Administration is taking $2.5 million from funds designated to improving parks around the country and using it to fund this charade.

There will be tanks on display, military aircraft flying above, and a speech from Trump. Trump is also selling tickets to the event, and sectioning off a VIP section. That’s not all – this wouldn’t be a story about Trump without a sprinkle of corruption. There will also be fireworks, partially provided by an Ohio retailer who has lobbied the Trump administration against expanded tariffs on China – the lobbying was successful.

In his article on Trump’s previous efforts to hold a military parade, Rantt Editor Jossif Ezekilov highlights some necessary context:

Some context regarding this story is needed. First, France’s parade is not necessarily about the military. It is essentially a celebration of the beginning of the French Revolution. The US has also had military parades in the past, but they have been to celebrate a military victory (the last one was at the end of the First Gulf War), never to explicitly show off military might.

In fact, the type of parade Trump desires goes against American tradition. The military has never been venerated in this way in the US, not least because they are not a separate branch of government, but rather subservient to it. Nor have the armed forces ever requested such pomp and circumstance. President Eisenhower, the last American military president, saw such parades as a show of weakness when asked if the US should hold them in response to Soviet ones during the Cold War.

..As mentioned previously, Soviet leaders put on grand military parades to show off their might and boost nationalistic sentiment. It is a tradition countries like North Korea carry to this day. It is a tradition Trump wants to replicate because that is the type of leader he aspires to be.

There are plenty of more honorable ways President Trump could honor our veterans and those who sacrifice for our country. Trump could start by leading a national charge to end veteran homelessness, rather than falsely telling Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that homelessness is “a phenomenon that started two years ago” and attempting to cut funding to affordable housing programs. Trump could also not capitulate to dictators. That’d be nice.

President Trump could also push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to quickly pass the House’s 9/11 first responder bill which would fund the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Luis Alvarez, a 9/11 first responder who argued for the necessity of the law with Jon Steward on Capitol Hill, just died of cancer linked to 9/11.

There will be protests of President Trump’s homage to himself throughout Washington, D.C. If you plan on skipping the festivities and are looking for other ways to honor America and uphold our aspirational ideals, here are several ways you can help migrants, including upcoming marches.

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Opinion // 4th Of July / Authoritarianism / Donald Trump / Independence Day