American Values

The biggest culture shock in decades is the partial abandonment of American values by the Republican party and its voters. America used to stand for something, but increasingly to hear the conservatives tell it, the dictionary needs to say “undefined” or even “meaningless.”

They claim that kneeling insults troops while they apparently abandon the long-held belief that American foreign policy was to spread, support, extend, and generally bolster democracy around the globe. Why do we remain in Afghanistan? Why did we go to Korea and Vietnam? What was the Berlin Air Lift for?

The long-standing, shared value was that democracy works and that it is a gift to the world. Some of that was a guise for spreading American capitalism, sure. Some of it was the idea that a democratic world would be safer for America. But at least some of it was about liberty and truth and justice.

And the Republicans have yet to explain how you get truth or justice, much less liberty, without a leader that believes in those things. How you get them without a free press. Indeed, we hear often the suggestion that people don’t care about tax returns or undue political pressure placed on subordinates.

People are supposed to care. That’s an American value. To boldly and blindly strike at American values is, by definition, unamerican. To attempt to subvert the institutions of the USA, be it the FBI, the IRS, or any other vital organ, is unamerican. Americans can criticize freely, and we expect our institutions to undergo changes to address corruption and lesser dysfunctions, but we do not and should not hack away carelessly at our own governmental body.

We were proud of our leaders. They spoke to the best in us, lifted us up. They reminded us of our commitments to those with less developed countries. They believed in progress. They weren’t perfect, but we carved their images into the rockface and built monuments to them not out of worship, but of recognition of what they stood for and as reminders that we aspire to continue their legacy.

I do not understand these Republicans that would sell away the values of America so quickly, for a tax cut and a seat on the court. It does not seem like a conservative thing to do. I can only hope that the real Republicans, the ones who spent a decades including an anti-lynching plank in their platform, the ones that believed in limiting the debt and aren’t afraid to raise taxes if needed, that see the need for regulations, I can only hope they will come back home to America and help defeat the farce that has replaced them.