I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
The Constitution guarantees that the President of the United States is an American. It’s the first and arguably most important qualification for the office. It’s supposed to protect us from foreign influences. The Constitution doesn’t guarantee that the President will be kind, or decent.
The kind and decent woman who cuts my hair is an American who was born in El Salvador. She remembers her birthplace, and the people there, a little differently from how Donald Trump imagines it. My best friend from law school is an African-American. My grandmother on my father’s side fared a little better, I guess: she was from the President’s electoral collaborator’s home country, Russia.
Some of us were lucky enough to be born here. Some unlucky enough to be dragged here in chains. Others were ambitious enough, determined enough, to come here. Or their parents were. Or their grandparents. Going back, all of us. All of us came from somewhere else.
Going back not so long ago, the first sight of America for many of us was the Statue of Liberty and, carved upon it, these words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.”
Many of us were literally tempest-tossed and homeless, and the American President — who somehow never absorbed the message he might have seen had he looked out from his Tower in New York — wants to toss us back. Toss us back to places without gold plating on the bathroom fixtures, and make sure nobody else tries to come to America from those shitholes. Okay, give the man the benefit of the doubt: maybe they’re only shithouses to him.
Being an American isn’t about gold plating.
It’s about aspiration, who we aspire to be.
We’re all immigrants, immigrating to the better angels of our nature, leaving behind the lesser.
Whether we were born here, or came here to stay from El Salvador, Haiti, The Congo, or Norway, we want to be an American. The best American we can be.
We want our President to be an American, too. The best American he or she can be. We’ve not yet seen the best of our current American President.
At least, we hope so.