As I watch Donald Trump whipping up his MAGA-hatted mobs with lies and hate speech, I have come to the conclusion that what we need are new and better Americans. We need people who actually believe the Fourth of July declaration “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Yes, the founding fathers were racists and sexists, not granting equal rights to women or African-Americans. That’s just the way it was in colonial America. But they did say “all men,” meaning these inalienable rights do not just apply to those who happen to have born within the United States.

What we need are new Americans for a new era. We need more Americans who are not racist, not sexist, not xenophobic, not homophobic, not afraid of anything they don’t understand, not afraid someone will take their guns away, not convinced that only evangelical Christians will go to heaven, not climate change deniers, not victims who blame others for their own failings and not so gullible that they can easily be led around by the nose with lies. China is not paying for Trump’s tariffs. The air is not cleaner under Trump.

Etc.

We have many of those new, better Americans on our doorstep right now, though our benighted president would have his followers believe they are criminals and illegals. As red meat for his base of bigots, Trump is threatening to send Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents out to round up and deport millions of immigrants. Only Nancy Pelosi’s intervention kept the ICE raids from taking place last month.

Maine is desperately in need of new and better Americans to counter a population aging twice as fast as the country as a whole. Immigrants are the future of the Maine economy. Last week we sent a check to the city of Portland to help support the nearly 300 asylum-seekers who arrived here recently after long, dangerous journeys from Angola and the Congo. We should all be grateful that we live in a place where 1,200 people volunteered to help the newcomers, but we should also be deeply ashamed that our state Legislature failed last week to reinstate general assistance for asylum-seekers before it adjourned.

The virtue of immigrants is that they are people taking action to improve their lives, in many cases to save their lives. Too many Trump supporters are people who refuse to help themselves. They look to Trump as their savior, as though he could actually revive the dead industries that once supported the economically distressed areas where they live. The answer for those who feel left behind by the economy is to get re-educated, re-trained and to move where the jobs are.

Instead, these old, tired Americans take refuge in their prejudices and fears, blaming Democrats, the media, Mexicans, Muslims and illegal aliens for their plight, when, in fact, it is self-serving capitalists like Trump who have rigged the economy against them.

As an antidote to all the negativism we should welcome to our shores men and women who will do the work no one else will do, at least until they settle in and begin to improve their lives. Until then, we should be happy to help them become the new and better Americans we need and they want to be.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.


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