Patti Davis, one of former President Ronald Reagan’s two daughters, published a deeply personal essay on The Daily Beast describing the fear and grief that Donald Trump’s electoral victory unleashed. She describes how her passionate patriotism developed on 9/11 and goes on to compare the emotions of that day to the emotions she feels under a Trump presidency.
“When I was a kid, I found my father’s love for America embarrassing. He would get misty-eyed at the National Anthem. His hand over his heart was more than just a required gesture; it seemed as if he was recording every beat, every movement of blood, timing it to the cadence of the music. The sight of the flag would make him pause, retreat to some soft acre of thoughts and dreams.
As I got older, I came to respect his patriotism, even though I disagreed in large part with his politics.”
Davis found her own deep patriotism later in life, on September 11, 2001. After she learned of the tragedy she drove to see her parents. Her father at this point was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. As she drove she was overcome with emotion.
The tears that overtook me made it impossible to drive; I had to pull over until they let up. They came from a place so deep in me, I thought they might have been waiting for me all my life. I wept for the country that I knew I’d taken for granted. I wept for the people who had gone to work on that clear blue day, or boarded a plane, never thinking that such horror could visit us here in the land of the free. People who would never see tomorrow.
The inauguration of Donald Trump brought back similar pain for Davis.
I memorized the place in my body where my love for this country, and my grief for its wounds, resided.
Since January 20th, that same place inside me has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. It’s filled me with a dread of what is to come, and what we might lose. I’ve re-read the Constitution, because that is what we might lose – that exquisite document that is the construct of this land we call America. Because of it, we have a government balanced between three branches and rooted in freedom, openness and fairness. We have a free press that is not censored or controlled by the government. We are a rarity in the world.
Davis also dispels Trump’s usage of the phrase “America first.”
Since January 20th, I have shuddered every time I hear the phrase ‘America First.’ That was the rallying cry of Charles Lindbergh, an unrepentant anti-Semite, and the America First Committee when they wanted this country to ignore the holocaust going on in Germany. They wanted us to close our eyes, our hearts, and our borders. Let us please not forget the origins of that phrase.
America since its inception has been a nation striving for greatness. Despite this fundamental character, our country is not immortal.
America, for all its strength and resilience, is not indestructible. No nation is. We will either splinter in fear and rage or we will rise up united in our love of the principles that built this country.
Davis’s words should prompt introspection in every American. Trump represents a fundamental threat to our democracy if we let him implement his full agenda or complacently watch as he rules over the other branches of government from the White House.