WASHINGTON — America has been waiting.
It's been waiting for President Donald Trump to stand up and address this moment: To offer something other than raging tweets, to commit himself to the job of trying to stitch together an unraveling nation, to let rightfully angry citizens know that they are seen, and that their concerns are legitimate and worthy.
That was too much to ask.
On Monday, Trump stood in the Rose Garden and used his national pulpit to threaten America with military force, while at the same time throwing that force against protesters who were peacefully exercising their rights as American citizens. He put lives at risk, so he could pose for a reality show photo op.
Why? Because law and order must be established and maintained, at any and all cost? Because the battlespace must be dominated, as defense secretary Mark Esper advised? Or could it be due to the embarrassment that comes from being hustled into an underground bunker, tucked away safe and secure from people raising their voices?
Contrary to the wants and desires of our president's bruised feelings, this country is not a military state, at least not yet.There are laws and rules against the deploying of troops on American soil, and for good reason. Look around the world. Look through history. There is example after example of what can happen to a nation, to a people, when small minded, egotistical men are given that kind of power.
Trump stood in front of a church Monday, holding up a bible, a book that he has surely never read. Anyone who has would know how to treat those they disagree with, with an open heart and a listening spirit, not with tear gas and rubber bullets.
What happened Monday was an inflection point, which is defined as a point at which a change in direction begins. We’ve had them before, and we’ve now reached one again. Our president, with thousands of protesters in almost every major city has yet to even acknowledge the very cause for which they are marching.
Instead, he has taken every opportunity to portray them in the same manner that got us here -- criminals. Yes, we have seen looting. We have seen fires. We have also seen outside agitators, protesters stopping damage and peaceful protestors attacked by the police, including right here in D.C., so the President could send out a fake photo.
This tells me that we are in a moment when the nation is crying out for a leader who can do the one thing this president isn't capable of: Listening.
What's at stake here is the very soul of this nation, and who embodies it. No one gets to sit on the sidelines anymore, watching the parade go by. We have to make a decision. We have to choose. All of us. We are either going to do the work, striving to become a better, more perfect union, or we are going to slide fully into the authoritarian police state that we got a glimpse of on Monday.
I know which side I’m on. I hope, that you join me there.