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Veterans, the 4th of July, and Trump’s Hijacking of What Used to be Our Shared Celebration of Freedom

This author has previously written on the erosion of our “norms” under this administration; asking when the line will be crossed and when even his supporters will have had enough.

Tomorrow yet another one of our norms – our shared celebrations – will be hijacked by this administration and reduced to a partisan ego-prop for a single party and their dear leader.

The Montana Post covers many of the fiscal concerns and the MTGOP’s relative silence on the huge expense in this piece from earlier today. In addition to the fiscal expenses laid out, consider:

  • The president’s event is in addition to the standard D.C. “A Capitol Fourth” celebration.
  • A president has not given a speech/held a rally on the 4th of July since Nixon in 1970 (televised over the Mall, which was met with large scale Vietnam protesters). The commentary practically writes itself.
  • Fireworks site must be moved and will affect how the display is viewed – negatively affecting views from the Washington monument and the Capitol.
  • Logistics regarding D.C. transportation are anticipated to be expensive – and they are still waiting for a reimbursement of $7.3m from Trump’s inauguration.
  • Special VIP tickets were given to the Republican National Committee (RNC) only – for wealthy donors and supporters, of course.
  • Costs and plans are not being fully shared with Congress.
  • …. Ok, this list is becoming too long. (Citation, Citation, Citation)

So what does this have to do with Montana and our rural areas?

1 in 10 Montanans is a veteran or active duty military. Sovereign Nations have the highest percentage of members serving in the military than any other ethnic group (and have since the Revolution). Many of the rural 4th of July celebrations have been overseen by local VFWs for decades – parades, fireworks, BBQs, and more. Veterans who have served then returning to their small communities to “give back”, grow, and raise families – and many of them being involved with, or spear-heading patriotic events, hanging flags outside businesses, assisting in funerals, cemetery cleanups, and more.

For many rural communities, the 4th of July celebrations do have a political component – Republicans or Democrats marching in parades with candidates, hosting booths, donating. The celebration has never been about one political party though; the celebration has always been about AMERICA. And the GOP has allowed the Trump administration, with this extra celebration in D.C., to make it about HIM and about only ONE political party.

A slap in the face to the rural towns who understand that the 4th of July is for AMERICA.

A big partisan kick in the teeth to the veterans and their families who have to watch our military be paraded about on the taxpayer dime for a Republican event. The same rural towns would be up in arms (literally) if this was a Democrat in the White House pulling this sort of stunt on the 4th of July.

You would honestly think that sensible folks could see through the charade, would be pissed at the expense, and feel a deep sense of wrong and shame. At least liberals understand that the 4th of July is for all Americans, not just a single political party. Yet, the MTGOP (and GOP as a whole) screeches constantly about the liberals being un-American; displaying their simplistic understanding of our Independence Day and the definition of Patriotism.

Any time liberals bring up poverty, education, food stamps, or the welfare of children on our border: we are accused of being un-American and not caring about our Veterans here, or that we must take care of American children FIRST before caring about children/families/individuals seeking asylum at our borders. That we cannot afford to help ANYONE. 

It’s going to be difficult this 4th of July. Not everyone feels patriotic about what’s happening in America. Those 1 in 10 Montanans who are Veterans? Some are pained that their service is being paraded around by this administration to score points and are embarrassed for their brothers and sisters in arms. Others proudly wear MAGA shirts and their Vietnam Veteran caps to their morning coffee at the cafe and are proud of being used – President Trump to them represents a means to an end.

The last price tag for a similar parade/spectacle that this administration wanted was $92 million. This extra 4th of July shindig will cost us taxpayers millions. Millions that will be spent to stroke the ego of the President, force the military to appear partisan, and essentially be a political rally for the GOP. Dollars NOT assisting Veterans (that the GOP are happy to refer to in conversation, but never in actual policy change or ending our endless wars), NOT dollars going to infrastructure, NOT dollars helping American children. Your tax dollars hard at work funding a GOP rally.

So my fellow liberals on this 4th of July: Donate to your local VFW, cheer and “Ooo” and “Ahh” at the fireworks, and feel pride in your hearts knowing your political party isn’t trying to pull shenanigans with the military and tax dollars. Be there to celebrate “By the People, and For the People” on Thursday – and remind the GOP what Patriotism is and what our Independence Day is all about.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Plains Feminist

Montana and national politics from a Southeastern Montana perspective, focusing on regional activism, womxn’s issues, LGBTQ equality, education, and revitalization of the Montana Democratic Party. Being a liberal east of Billings has unique and intense challenges, and Plains Feminist tries (sometimes fruitfully, sometimes not so much) to educate the hard-working folks who *eek* out a living on the “not mountains” side of the state. Plains Feminist enjoys intellectual banter over coffee or beer preferably after dark. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @PlainsFeminist.

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