How do You Say Happy Birthday (and Remain Sane) in the Age of Trump?

By Eric Segall

Today is the 241st birthday of the Declaration of Independence. We treat July 4th as our country's birthday. Who feels like celebrating?

A related question is what does a sane person do when he looks around and sees madness everywhere? The President of the United States is exercising his power as if his office is the ultimate fantasy of a reality television star. He cares much more about ratings, insults, popularity, and revenge than sound policy, or policy of any kind. His top two advisers appear to be his 37-year-old son-in-law who has no experience governing, and a 64-year-old former media executive who might well like to see the world implode, and appears to be both a sexist and a racist. In any event, he too had zero government experience before walking through the White House doors.

The Secretary of State is the former CEO of Exxon, there is no FBI Director, the Sectary of HUD knew nothing about housing upon ascending to that office, while the EPA is now headed by one of the environment’s most formidable foes. The Secretary of Education detests public schools and likely couldn’t pass an eighth-grade civics test. Many high level executive branch vacancies remain unfilled (which I guess might be a good thing).

The Supreme Court of the United States is one vacancy away from turning sharply to the right for several generations. Rights we now take for granted may be lost, and rights big companies and the rich covet are likely just around the corner.

And the Congress, what can I say about the Congress? The Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House can’t even bring themselves to meet the President in person and timidly suggest that tweeting out pro-wrestling videos smashing CNN, or personally insulting morning anchors with apparently false descriptions of bleeding facelifts, does not honor the Office of the President. These two men are, above all else, cowardly keepers of the partisan flames.

So, how do we celebrate our country’s birthday, and how do sane people keep their heads? I don’t know. All I can do is love and be thankful for my family, friends, and colleagues and keep them close both emotionally and physically. I can hope that this psychotic phase we are in will someday be just a period in time that was scary but didn’t cause permanent harm to the nation. I can hope that America is so rich with people of compassion, energy and good will that the 2018 elections will turn out differently, and the country will start climbing back. Hope is essential to birthday celebrations and to keeping one’s sanity. At least for me.

Most of all, on this birthday, I want to remember that we did eventually overcome the sin of slavery. That formal racial apartheid in this country is a thing of the past. That Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon, though on top for a while, didn’t stay there. That although we are far from perfect, this country has seen a steady progress to a better, fairer society for all.

We Americans don’t run from adversity. Maybe that has something to do with our great western spirit and our urban toughness, I don’t know. Although we have taken a giant step backwards, I refuse to lose faith in my country and its people. Today I'll celebrate our past (not our present), and hopefully our future. Those are certainly worth celebrating.

So, Happy Birthday America, but not to you Mr. Trump.