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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

Why Presidents Day gives us pause in 2018

Holiday was intended to honor past presidents and the democracy they defended. Unfortunately, it has a new meaning in Trump’s era.

Craig Evinger, of Stony Brook, holds a sign

Craig Evinger, of Stony Brook, holds a sign during a "Not my President's Day" rally in 2017. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Monday is Presidents Day, established to honor George Washington, later adding Abraham Lincoln and all past presidents.

After leading the colonies to victory over the British and becoming our first president, Washington worked hard to set a template of fairness and integrity for commanders in chief. Unfortunately, President Donald Trump often disregards and dishonors Washington’s vision.

Washington helped establish our democracy, and appointed Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and other capable leaders to the country’s first Cabinet.

Meanwhile, Trump bashes the news media, demeans the FBI and intelligence agencies, and appointed fawning toadies to his Cabinet. The 2017 video of Trump going around a conference table as his groveling appointees paid Soviet-style tribute to him still makes me cringe.

His latest notion is to hold a military parade on Pennsylvania Avenue. The fact that 89 percent of Military Times readers say no to the idea — in an informal poll — doesn’t seem to faze him.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a former Army lieutenant colonel, tweeted: “We don’t live in a dictatorship or monarchy. I swore on an oath — in the military and the Senate — to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.”

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un had his uncle killed after he allegedly confessed to planning a coup and for half-hearted applause for Kim, according to the country’s news agency. Trump suggested some Democrats were “treasonous” because of their stony reaction to his State of the Union address. Of course, things like military parades take the focus off real acts of possible treason, like conspiring with Russia in the 2016 race.

If Trump truly cares about our military, he can use the money he’d waste on a Third World-style military parade to care for homeless vets. But if he forces his parade plans, perhaps we’ll get to see Trump review the troops in full military regalia, sporting gleaming medals for hugest lie or biggest ego.

Presidents Day is intended to honor past presidents and the democracy they defended. Unfortunately, Trump’s behavior often seems to undermine the nation’s principles. Luckily, presidents come and go. American democracy is — hopefully — forever.

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.

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