Donald Trump is gonna Trump.
The 45th president today will hijack Washington’s annual Independence Day celebration and turn it into a military-heavy campaign rally. Tanks were moved by rail into position near the National Mall on Tuesday, and flyovers by a stealth bomber, the Navy’s Blue Angels aerobatics team and other warplanes were being arranged.
And, of course, the event will feature an address by President Trump himself, which has been previewed by political advisor and chronic Hatch Act violator Kellyanne Conway as extolling the administration’s accomplishments.
All this so fits Trump’s love of spectacle and self-aggrandizement as to be utterly unnoteworthy — were it not more typical of the old Soviet Union than of the United States.
We would be better off leaving the chest-thumping, strutting displays of military hardware to the despots who need constant reassurance of their importance. It is a sorrowful fact that these are precisely the kind of world figures this president dotes upon and wishes to emulate.
The American military is to be honored and respected, but it is worth remembering that several of the grievances cited in the Declaration of Independence involve elevating the military above the citizenry. Independence Day is not about the military, and it is not about the president, no matter who that president is. It is about the U.S. people and the nation itself.
Fortunately, the rest of the nation has its traditional local options for its Independence Day: fireworks, barbeques, baseball.
As Trump indulges in what the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin calls “a garish military Mardi Gras,” we can, and should, turn off the TV and gather for our own community celebrations. There is more value in St. Peter’s Fourth of July parade or the fireworks over Mankato’s Riverfront Park than in Trump’s campaign ad backdrop. These celebrations are ours.