Opinion | TD originals

Go Scrooge Yourself

The 2017 National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., with the White House in the background. (Evan Vucci / AP)

Forget e pluribus unum—out of many, one. The United States has a new motto that’s a little less egalitarian: “Sorry, poor people. Stop being so fucking lazy.”

In Latin, that’s Nos paenitet, populum pauperem. Nolite ergo esse piger fucking.

When length is a concern, “Sorry, poor people” is the preferred way to shorten it. In sign language, the middle finger extended high in the air is the correct nonverbal expression. Many citizens of the United States, whether hearing-impaired or not, love this sign because it also means “We’re number 1” and captures the essence of American exceptionalism.

Call it a Christmas miracle. Donald Trump and the rest of his magnanimous administration, aided by such social justice warriors as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and many other selfless members of the House and Senate, worked overtime to pass new legislation in the dead of night while the rest of America prepared to celebrate the birth of Jesus and looked forward to boosting the U.S. economy with their future tax savings. Much of the press did not report this news in great depth because media organizations, strapped for resources, were busy investigating whether witches like Jill Stein float and how Vladimir Putin used Facebook and puppies to beat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and destroy democracy in America.

To celebrate his huge victory, President Trump redesigned the presidential coin. As CEO of the U.S., he did not want to waste any time in spreading the spirit of America to the whole world and setting an example for other business and public leaders to follow.

The Washington Post reports:

The presidential seal has been replaced by an eagle bearing President Trump’s signature. The eagle’s head faces right, not left, as on the seal. The 13 arrows representing the original states have disappeared. And the national motto, “E pluribus unum”—a Latin phrase that means “Out of many, one”—is gone.

Instead, both sides of the coin feature Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

The changes don’t stop there. In addition to his signature, Trump’s name appears three times on the coin, which is thicker than those made for past presidents. And forget the traditional subdued silver and copper: Trump’s coin, a White House aide marveled, is “very gold.”

The aide said the president, whose real estate properties are known for their gilded displays of wealth and status, was personally involved in redesigning the coin. Trump, who also had a hand in creating his famous red campaign hat, “wanted to weigh in on it,” the aide said. “It’s beautifully made.”

The move is all part of the president’s demoralization strategy, and his supporters, some of whom are poor, hailed the action as another example of Trump keeping his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” and “fight for us.”

Some non-poor people rejoiced by buying Rolex watches for themselves and others.

Trump is a big believer in self-reliance. His dad gave him just $1 million to start his career, and he turned it into six bankruptcies, three marriages and the most powerful job on earth. That could be you.

This Christmas, Trump is imparting a valuable lesson to America. More than 40 million Americans, or 13 percent of the 323 million people in our country, live in poverty. Trump wants all of them to learn the secret of his success: Don’t give up. Lack of wealth does not need to be a hindrance to making dreams come true. Trump, like Tom Vu (another famous self-made man and “how to make money” teacher), is giving the gift of knowledge, showing impoverished America how to pull itself up by its bootstraps, so everyone can experience the good life.

We see countless examples of Trump’s self-determination message. The administration is considering separating families to combat illegal immigration. The Texas Highway Patrol is stopping foreign-looking drivers for minor traffic violations and turning them over to border agents for deportation if they don’t have the proper documents. Debt relief for some students defrauded by their colleges will be limited. Thousands of people in Puerto Rico remain desperate for help since Hurricane Maria.

But despite the example our politicians are setting, many Americans are having trouble getting it. They just can’t break the habit of being decent.

“I’m never going to lose the Christmas spirit,” says Arlene Rivera, who has been living with her family in the Puerto Rican mountains without electricity and water for months.

No one said making America great again would be easy.

Some Americans still cling to kindness and practice humanity. They follow the path of Jesus, who, in the words of actor and comedian John Fugelsang, “was a radical nonviolent revolutionary who hung around lepers, hookers and crooks; wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, anti-public prayer (M 6:5); but was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a copay; and was a long-haired brown-skinned homeless community-organizing anti-slut-shaming Middle Eastern Jew.”

This Christmas, an NFL football player, Jadeveon Clowney, filled trash cans with toys and gave them away to needy children in Houston.

A California couple, Jack and Laura Dangermond, donated $165 million to preserve 24,000 acres of Santa Barbara County coastline.

An NBA player, Dirk Nowitzki, continued his decades-plus of visiting brave kids fighting for their lives at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

Another NFL player, Chris Long, is playing the entire 2017 season without collecting income, giving away the money to fund scholarships in Charlottesville, Va., and educational equity in St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia. Some people have called Long and his Pledge 10 the anti-Colin Kaepernick, but Long wants no part of that and publicly supports Kaepernick’s right to protest for justice.

Some rich people even spoke truth about the new tax bill.

In America, breaking old habits, like being compassionate and generous, will take time. Some people will keep resisting the new, colder, crueler American spirit. They will keep fighting for peace, freedom and truth.

But if you want to help make America great today, return all those Christmas presents you purchased. Give your loved ones a big box of coal instead.

Or better yet, give them nothing at all.

That would be the most American thing you can do.

Eric Ortiz
Eric Ortiz is a journalist and innovator with two decades in digital media, Ortiz founded the mobile app startup Evrybit, a live storytelling and reporting tool, as a 2014 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at…
Eric Ortiz

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