From the beginning of the Trump administration, many Americans have looked on in disbelief at what the country has become. But the truth is America's problems go back a lot further than two years and it might be time to admit that.
As a Presidential candidate, Donald Trump was little more than a joke to any seasoned political player: the unpolished New York real estate mogul and reality TV star who wanted to put "America first."
But for many Americans who felt forgotten for the last half century, Trump looked like the man they had been waiting for, and suddenly a wildcard candidate was elected to highest office in the land.
To the other half of America, the election of Donald Trump was a devastating blow, not only to our future, but to our identity as a country. People predicted the worst and, in many cases, were proven right.
Over the next two years America would watch as the country was transformed by each new unthinkable act, and they just kept piling up: the President's call to ban transgender people from serving in the military, his continuous war against the free press, the attempted ban on Muslims entering the country, the Charlottesville car attack, the call to end DACA, the separation of migrant families, the gassing of immigrants at the boarder, and mass shooting after mass shooting.
After every tragedy, many could only look on in shock. This wasn't America. This is not who we are.
I think I speak for all America when I say I expect a certain level of competence in the cynical coverups that keep… https://t.co/P7iPA66cXb— Huck! The Herald Angels Sing! (@Huck! The Herald Angels Sing!)1542747833.0
I come from a family of journalists, I’m the 6th generation of a family owned newspaper. To have the President of U… https://t.co/l4o3Y5cPQW— Jonathan Van Ness (@Jonathan Van Ness)1542809090.0
The only #Caravan threatening America is Trump, the Dictator of the United States and his cult followers. We must s… https://t.co/gz0fD5D3uX— It’s Mueller Time (@It’s Mueller Time)1543260381.0
America must be a beacon of democracy, human rights, & hope to the rest of the world, including immigrants & asylum… https://t.co/Z2FlIVW430— Chris Pappas (@Chris Pappas)1543263799.0
But these assertions of American identity did not begin with President Trump. As early as 2007, then Senator Barack Obama used the phrase when talking about the war in Iraq, and later in 2014, when reacting to a CIA torture report. In fact, the phrase was often a part of the President's rhetoric. Each time America failed to live up to itself? It wasn't us. It was not who we are.
The phrase has been echoed repeatedly as an assertion of our more noble ideals and a call to do better, but many no longer see it that way. Instead of aspiring to do better, all we are doing is erasing shameful truths about the past and absolving ourselves of responsibility.
Marginalized people have had enough and are calling out the hypocrisy.
The U.S. government: *does something horrible and harmful to marginalized communites* You: ”This is not who we are… https://t.co/rQk3PuXIXb— diane alston (@diane alston)1543186652.0
for real though. whenever americans are like "this is not america!" i as a european just look from the sidelines li… https://t.co/MDxJftLnQW— gilles (@gilles)1543338712.0
I'm blocking anybody who I see tweet "this is not who we are". https://t.co/5QDxVWbgqi— Acey Deecey 🚀🚀 (@Acey Deecey 🚀🚀)1543203379.0
THis iS nOt wHo wE ARe https://t.co/7Jse9yOLY7— D dot Q (@D dot Q)1543248204.0
Quietly developing a slingshot that hurls a history book at each person who tweets “this is not who we are.”— Kashana (@Kashana)1543282245.0
Liberalism means saying "[Atrocity X] is not what America is about, this is not who we are" about something that is… https://t.co/fvqnTrtP55— Current Affairs (@Current Affairs)1543261214.0
Them: I can't believe they used tear gas on kids. This is not who we are. Me: https://t.co/4VlZpgAHlv— Tré Easton (@Tré Easton)1543251299.0
every time i read some milquetoast democrat tweet saying "this is not who we are" but it is, in fact, exactly who w… https://t.co/NNQkGT2NWj— lil osha (@lil osha)1543338723.0
The public: This is not who we are! Historians: https://t.co/CrNRgvyRy9— Eric Gonzaba (@Eric Gonzaba)1543267690.0
When confronted with history, it's impossible to deny the darker moments of the American identity.
How long will it take folks insisting, “This is not who we are!” before they realize that this is, in fact, who we are?— Rachel Cohen (@Rachel Cohen)1543376795.0
I keep seeing "this is not who we are" tweets regarding the events at the border. That's exactly who we are. People… https://t.co/xblwOSxO6D— Sadra Sepehri (@Sadra Sepehri)1543285071.0
People don’t really believe the “this is not who we are” line, do they? Surely they mean “we should aspire to be be… https://t.co/lRPw1pn6ac— John Pfaff (@John Pfaff)1543205135.0
I'm tired of hearing ”this is not who we are” and ”this is not the America I know”. Open a book. Watch a documentar… https://t.co/hVxWw9sxJ4— diane alston (@diane alston)1543197447.0
Our achievements as a country are irrevocably tied to the sins of our past, but aspiring to be greater is just as much a part of the American identity as the times we have failed to do so. Instead of denying who we are, we can work towards being better by embracing who we want to be.
Americans: Instead of saying "this is not who we are" whenever shit hits the fan, try saying "this is not who we ar… https://t.co/sXBDs8q0vC— Postmaster General (@Postmaster General)1543257918.0