Donald Trump’s deplorably gaudy July 4th parade, which will use the military as a prop for political campaigning and Republican fundraising, is perhaps the clearest encapsulation yet of the vertiginous decline of America’s standing in the world under his rule.
That erosion, which has made us both frightening and a laughing stock to outsiders, threatens the country’s economic dominance as well as its hard-fought political and military alliances.
That, in turn, could imperil the ability of future policymakers to bring the United States back from the brink—whether the issue is climate, trade or human rights.
Think about it: This is the first Independence Day in American history to be celebrated under a president who openly and wistfully wishes he were, well, king. Put differently, the man literally longs for the very monarchy whose overthrow we are supposed to be celebrating, and his cheesy military exercises are a symbol of that would-be pomp.
Let’s look at the record: Trump is the first and only American president to openly flout just about every institution that is sacred to democracy.
He offers incessant praise and sycophantic defenses of murderous dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman (widely believed to have been ordered the gruesome killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi), and of course, long-time buddy Vladimir Putin.
Trump is an inveterate climate doubter, having withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement and thereby endangering the future of the planet itself.
He regularly attacks the very concept of a free press. He derides whatever meager limits are imposed on his excesses by the legislative and judiciary branches. He scoffs at the notion of accountability and public service.
Trump also violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause on a daily basis simply by not having divested from his asset holdings before taking over the presidency. This is an extremely corrupt precedent that will be hard to break in future presidencies barring new legislation—and one which puts the United States on par with the suitcase-full-of-cash kind of corruption generally associated with poorer, less developed nations.
Global confidence in the United States is key to the country’s long-standing economic power and influence. In just a couple of short years, Trump has squandered much of the country’s political capital. It remains to be seen whether our next president—presuming we don’t actually revert to a monarchy or rose—will be able to reverse the damage.