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On Presidents Day: Trumpism, Relativism, and Abandoning Faith in America for Fear

Our grandparents weren’t afraid of Islam or “Sharia law.” They believed America and its ideals were special, the best in the world. They believed that, in time, the whole world would become like us—democratic, capitalist, free—because the whole world would want to be like us.

Today’s Trumpists don’t believe that. They’ve fallen for the relativism that says America is just one more country and American democracy is just one more idea. They’ve fallen for some angry post-modernism that says that we can no longer persuade with facts and reason. They disregard evidence and logic as tools for demonstrating that our ideals our superior. Trumpists buy the lie that there is no persuasion, only the force of arms and numbers.

That cynical relativism leads Trumpists to fearful conclusions. Let Muslims in, let them increase their numbers, and they will rub out American freedom and democracy and impose their medieval worldview! Trumpists assume every worldview suffers the weakness of their own: static, impenetrable by argument, surviving only by blood loyalty and force. Trumpists have abandoned their faith in America and become the same kind of fearful ideologues they imagine are coming to get us.

I still believe America can win its own argument.

I still believe we are a special nation with special values. I still believe that when people from other cultures experience those values, when we open our doors and our hearts and show them everything America can be, most of those newcomers will say, “Wow—America really is the best! America lives up to the promises that made us want to come here in the first place.” Newcomers properly welcomed to America will give up Old World traditions and embrace the blessings of liberty that they see all around them in America. Not all will—some newcomers will fail to embrace America, just as some of our own, our “natives”, our fifth- and tenth-generation residents do as they succumb to selfishness, greed, depression, addiction, hatred, and ignorance. But enough will. Enough newcomers will pledge allegiance to the flag, to the Republic, to all for which we stand, that they will keep alive by their example and their commitment the ideals of liberty and justice and opportunity for all.

In the crisis of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt opened his Presidency with these words:

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance [FDR, First Inaugural Address, 1933.03.04].

Roosevelt understood this fact as surely as Reagan: those of us who believe in America have nothing to fear. Our nation has not only endured but embraced wave after wave of newcomers—if not we ourselves, then brave souls not that many steps above us in our family trees—who forsook their native nationalities and chose to become Americans.

America, like all nations, has its faults. We wallow in materialism and ammosexuality (both of which forces have loci of hopeful opposition). We sometimes succumb to doubt and erupt with prejudice and racism, embodied now in Trumpism. But America done right, living up to its brave, rational, inclusive ideals, is the persuasive nation, the nation good people of all cultures and creeds, will choose as their model for just government.


  1. mike from iowa 2018-02-19 11:23

    Terrorists want the same things as stoopid wingnuts. They want to rule using fear and religious dogma and have no regard for those they consider infidels.

  2. bearcreekbat 2018-02-19 12:28

    Great post Cory! Very encouraging and inspiring. Thanks!

  3. Roger Cornelius 2018-02-19 14:13

    Thank you for a great post, Cory, you and those like you are the embodiment of what a ‘real American’ is.
    As I wallow into my sunset years observing our turbulent democracy, there is a renewed hope and faith in this country inspired of the surviving school children of the Pinedale School massacre. They have picked up the mantle of democracy and are challenging not only this president, but the goals and values set forth in the founding papers of our country and calling for radical change and for adults to meet their responsibilities.
    Trump is merely a burp in history and his legacy will be written with *’s on how he did not demonstrate the good of his country.
    Even as this fascist wannabe dictator works to establish authoritarian rule the forces of the Constitution are working against him, for within our government and congress there are the checks and balances that even his own party recognize and will fight to retain.
    No, I don’t fear Islam or Sharia Law, my fear lies with the violent extremists that are Trump and how he enables them.
    I often say that this country was strong enough to survive Richard Nixon and it can survive Trump. Watergate was a clumsy attempt to spy on Nixon’s enemies.
    This Trump scandal is worse, far worse than anything Nixon could have dreamed up.
    Hope and faith in our government is shaky right now, but we as a country are better and more powerful than Trump and our Constitution will prevail.
    Thank you and Happy President’s Day President Obama.

  4. Dana P 2018-02-19 14:20

    Excellent Cory. Your post and these “kids” in Florida keep me inspired.

  5. mike from iowa 2018-02-19 14:42

    Wait for it….. wait….wait….soon the unembarrassed right will start the narrative that gun control is not to be spoken of after a tragedy and then turn the narrative to claiming Libs are using children’s deaths for political gain.

    These school kids are 100% correct so it is no wonder why wingnuts despise born fetuses.

  6. grudznick 2018-02-19 15:09

    On Presidents Day it is appropriate that the Draft Jim Bolin for Something campaign is announced. There are few in the legislatures who know more about Presidents or politics and public policy than Mr. Bolin.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-02-19 15:51

    Draft Bolin? Who? What? Draft him for RNC chair, get him out of our hair.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-02-19 15:53

    Bear, Roger, Dana, thank you. We must not let fear win. Nor can we be complacent: America has endured not by luck or divine favor but by active defense and practice of our best values.

  9. Donald Pay 2018-02-19 16:26

    Interesting. I’m taking a class in postmodernism right now. Really, the Trump presidency is the epitome of postmodernism, the Piss Christ Presidency, so to speak.

  10. grudznick 2018-02-19 18:55

    Draft Bolin for Something.

    State Auditor, perhaps…I have heard he would do well there and not just be a stuffed suit. Or, Treasurer. Nobody is tighter with the purse than Mr. Bolin. State Secretary? There is nobody in the legislatures who has done more law bills about the right way to handle elections and the measures initiated than Mr. Bolin. Lt. Governor? I imagine that would be up for Mr. Jackley to decide, since Ms. Noem has the cowboy caucus rather locked up.

    I’m just saying: Draft Bolin for Something!

  11. Debbo 2018-02-19 20:21

    Very well said Cory. I find myself encouraged and I treasure that every time I feel it. As Roger said, the high schoolers are beacons of hope that buoy me up too.

    I’m going to post this on my FB page. Thank you Cory.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-02-20 07:06

    Share away, Deb! We are the true believers in the American dream. We are the keepers of faith in the real source of America’s greatness.

  13. mike from iowa 2018-02-20 07:57

    Curb that tongue, Girl. The Buoys did the song Timothy about a mine cave-in where only three survived and only two made it out alive because………

  14. mike from iowa 2018-02-20 07:59

    Joe and me went all Donner Party on Timothy.

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