The Cult Award

President Trump August 31st, 2016 from Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

President Trump is scheduled to provide the Presidential Medal of Freedom award to Representatives Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan.

The award is given “to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” It grew out of the Medal of Freedom, which had been created specifically to recognize abnormal efforts in defense of our country, our soldiery, our allies and American principles during World War II.

When the award was first provided, the recipients had all made great achievements on behalf of America. They weren’t simply among the best in their field. They had made great discoveries, or been key people in founding aspects of American culture, or had devoted much of their lives to freedom for millions of those without it, or had used their artistic skills in such a way that they were recognized worldwide as exemplars of American style.

The medal has been devalued. “Bear” Bryant, recipient of the medal under Reagan, was an early example of a person who should not have received the medal under its original standards. He absolutely excelled in his field as a collegiate sports coach, but throughout most of the world American college sports are fairly unknown. He didn’t spend much of his life trying to better the plight of the oppressed. He didn’t create or revitalize an industry. He simply excelled in his field. This is impressive, but it doesn’t promote America or American values to the world.

The list of the people who simply excelled has swelled, incorporating many entertainers and athletes in particular. Presidents have seemingly taken to rewarding people with whom they would like to share a podium. It has seemed, in some instances, that the Presidents have used the medal as an easy way to make inroads into an existing fan base for political reasons, or as a reward for political allies. The list of examples is long. It’s hard to explain what James Brady did to receive special recognition beyond his advocacy for gun control, yet he received the award from Clinton. John Wooden, another beloved coach, received the award from George W. Bush… as did Bill Cosby and Carol Burnett. Entertainment and sports celebrities became regular recipients under Barack Obama.

Trump has continued this trend, and worsened it. Under Trump, the vast majority of recipients have been, by the original measure, unworthy. Antonin Scalia, for example, may have been an excellent jurist, but there was absolutely nothing he accomplished which was worthy of receiving the award. Likewise, Roger Staubach or Jerry West. One of the rare instances under Trump of someone actually developing an American cultural institution… Rush Limbaugh, and talk radio… was performed in such a way that it was designed to play to an existing political audience and strengthen Trump’s position prior to an election.

Limbaugh’s elevation also marked the beginning of what now culminates with the reward of Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan: the use of the award to promote a strain of nationalism where not even party is placed over country, but leader is placed over party. I believe that, had Limbaugh continued to promote the ideals he used to promote – whether he held them or not – he would have not simply been ignored for the medal, he would never have been invited to the State of the Union in the first place. Rush didn’t get the award for being key in the creation of an American institution, he received it for blind fealty to Trump.

That is the reason for the awards today. Lacking even the flimsy excuse that Rush’s earlier efforts had provided, Trump is now simply rewarding his sycophants. Far from the original requirements and lacking even the diminished goal of excellence, the requisite is simply loyalty in the face of incompetence and criminality. It is the latest abuse of power in a long line of such abuses.

The awards will be cheered by his cult, both because it provides a reward for service to their king (and thus the illusion that they, too, might some day be rewarded) and because of the outcry it will create. Liberal tears, in a time where the liberals seem to be winning in all other ways, will be a welcome reminder of the time when they thought they were successful.

Perhaps because I’m not especially liberal, I have no tears for what’s happening. I have merely contempt. Once again, we have an institution that was showing signs of weakness but was in a position to be repaired and moved back toward greatness, and once again we have absolute corruption and devaluation instead.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.