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I Am Not Afraid of America; Trump Is

I Am Not Afraid of America; Trump Is


The president's "me first" mentality is un-American, and he knows it.


Our president always enjoys looking into a mirror and hearing he's the bigly-est of them all, but I have to admit no one is more "America first" than Donald Trump.

Initially I thought Trump was preaching the doctrine of selfishness, with America first really more like "me first." His golden-encrusted lifestyle atop Trump Tower in Manhattan modeled an everyone-wants-to-be-me attitude. Even his reality show, The Apprentice, cast himself as the ultimate prize. Just imagine, you could work for Donald Trump? Get in line.

During the campaign he patted himself on the back for not paying taxes. Trump said that's what "smart" people do, government services be damned.

Then Trump took "me first" to another level. Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention had the audience chanting "Yes, You Will" instead of Barack Obama's "Yes, We Can." Maybe in Trump's America, the money will read "In Trump We Trust."

Finally, all that "America first" talk during the inauguration codified his selfishness as policy. "From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land," proclaimed Trump, as if coming down from the mountain. "From this day forward, it's going to be only America first."

"Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families," he said. Screw that Jesus Christ and his Golden Rule about treating others as you'd like to be treated. Now you come first. Greed is god.

Trump's worship of the self distracts, though, from the real problem. One week later, we're starting to discover what makes Trump tick. His insecurity isn't rooted in some worry that he doesn't measure up, it's a product of fear. He's afraid of Muslims and immigrants, but he's more afraid of you and me.

I'm not afraid of Americans. I am not afraid of America. But Donald Trump sure is. He's afraid of the fabled "melting pot" and its promised American Dream because Trump sees a zero-sum world in which your winning is his losing.

Trump is afraid of real patriotism, which is to sacrifice for your country. So he must redefine what it means to be American in his image. He will only feel safe when he looks out into a sea of faces at the inauguration and reflecting back in the sunlight is a glimpse of himself.

Now when Trump looks around these United States, he recoils. He sees diversity, or "American carnage" as he described it during the inauguration, and he truly is terrified. Trump really does see an education system "which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge." What must Trump think of you and me? We are the depraved people who came from that education system.

We couldn't afford the membership fee at Mar-a-lago even when it was only $100,000, never mind now that it's doubled because Trump is president.

Trump is obsessed with "the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential." That's not a line to be dismissed as the usual soaring rhetoric of presidents. Trump is a lot of things; a poet isn't one of them. No, people have robbed Trump, he said. Take that literally.

The American people "deprived of all knowledge" have "robbed" Trump, and he's afraid of what comes next. That fear motivates every Trump executive order, every tweet. It's why he ran for president in the first place.

More than wanting material goods all to himself, Trump is afraid of losing them. Maybe that's what happens when your companies declare bankruptcy so many times. Trump is afraid that the more immigrants we welcome, who come with an American Dream of prosperity, then the more woke we become to the reality that he and his billionaire friends are hoarding wealth at the top.

The divide between the Trumps and the non-Trumps only grows larger by the day. Just before The Donald took office, Oxfam's newest analysis found the eight richest men have wealth equivalent to the entire poorest half of the world's population. That's true but wrong.

Trump worries the American people will one day get all French Revolution on him and throw the billionaires out of their glass castles. Sometimes when listening to a Bernie Sanders speech or when watching Elizabeth Warren wag her finger, it felt like we'd had enough of the billionaire class keeping Americans down. The ExxonMobils of the world rake in profits while voting repeatedly against including LGBT people in the company's anti-discrimination policy. By the way, ExxonMobil is still the only company in the history of the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index to get a negative score. Now, we're about to make its CEO, Rex Tillerson, the secretary of State.

They give us rights only when they're forced to, only when protests would threaten to take from them the wealth they're so afraid of losing. They give us a slice of that pie only when it would be impossible to grasp onto it anymore.

That's what protest is about. The Women's March sent a message that you can't expect to take away our rights without consequence. Now protests in airports are warning that Americans are paying attention, and you can't take away what made this country great: immigrants. Or, more specifically: inclusion.

Trump's voters are so far OK with billionaires in the Cabinet and the new Muslim ban, because they've accidentally internalized the "me first" mentality. Trump gives his supporters permission to ignore the interests of their fellow humans as long as their paycheck is promised to swell.

Now is arriving the time, more quickly than I anticipated, when Trump supporters must snap out of it. You were lied to. Look around and evidence is everywhere.

It bothers Trump supporters, for example, that he claims to have won the popular vote because more than 3 million people supposedly snuck into polls and voted illegally. They were there. They voted. They didn't see anyone doing anything illegal.

That has them wondering: What else is Trump lying about?

During the campaign, LGBT people warned we'd lose our rights if they elected Trump. An Obama executive order made it illegal to fire LGBT people working for federal contractors. Now Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer says "I don't know" when asked during a White House briefing whether the new president plans to revoke antidiscrimination protections. "I don't know?" For a real LGBT ally, that would've been an easy answer.

There are Trump supporters -- maybe in your own family -- who support LGBT rights. "I don't know" should be a chilling warning that they made the wrong bet.

Or think about the big, beautiful wall that Trump promised. Mexico warned it wouldn't be paying for any wall at the border. This past week House Speaker Paul Ryan finally said on MSNBC that "we're going to pay for it." He means Americans. We're going to pay for it, with only the hope of getting reimbursed.

Republicans promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act but also to replace it. No one would lose their health insurance, Trump said. Now Republicans are repealing the law and giving Americans an IOU on health insurance.

Maybe they'll pass a new health care law on the same day we get reimbursed by Mexico for that wall? If you believe that, I've got a course for you at Trump University.

It's not too late for Trump supporters to do something. Protest not only sends the message to Trump and his allies in Congress that Americans won't sit idly by, it also constantly reminds Trump's supporters that they were wrong. Protests to them might feel like a big "We told you so." That's not their real message. Protesters are begging, please listen. Trump isn't here to help you make money. He's here to ensure you don't get any of his.

LucasLUCAS GRINDLEY is the editor in chief of The Advocate. Follow him on Twitter @lucasgrindley or on Facebook.

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Lucas Grindley

Lucas Grindley is VP and Editorial Director for Here Media, which is parent company to The Advocate. His Twitter account is filled with politics, Philip Glass appreciation, and adorable photos of his twin toddler daughters.
Lucas Grindley is VP and Editorial Director for Here Media, which is parent company to The Advocate. His Twitter account is filled with politics, Philip Glass appreciation, and adorable photos of his twin toddler daughters.