By Carol Meyer

At a recent news conference, President Donald Trump ranted against four freshman Congresswomen, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley and Talib, for questioning and voting against additional funding for his Southern border policies.

Trump’s response to these Congresswomen’s concerns and actions was to challenge: “If you’re not happy, you can leave.”… And in follow up tweets he suggested that the women go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places they came from.

Not surprisingly, Trump’s comments were met by a firestorm of protests calling the remarks racist directed at women of color and uninformed given that the women were all U.S. citizens, with three born here and one a legally naturalized citizen born in Somalia.

On July 16, during an interview on MSNBC, Jon Meacham, historian and author of “The Soul of America,” weighed in on Trump’s remarks and tweets about the four Congresswomen. Meacham reminded the viewers that from the early days of his campaign for the office of president in 2015, Trump himself was a frequent critic of America saying “…the American dream is dead.”

Later, during his inaugural address, Trump raised the image of “American carnage” when explaining the need to “Make America great again.” Throughout the next two years of his term Trump continued his rant about America’s attacking the counsel and the personal loyalty of members of his own Cabinet and the functioning of departments within the federal government from State to Health & Human Services.

Meacham reminded the viewers that unlike in the United States, where our Constitution establishes that the people commit themselves to form a more perfect union to establish justice, domestic tranquility and defense of the nation, in dictatorships the people have little to say in their government. In fact, dictators do not tolerate criticism; instead, they isolate, imprison and even kill protesters/critics. Meacham reminded the viewers that to be an American is effectively to be a protester working diligently toward a more perfect Union.

As citizens of this country, we have an obligation to speak out when we are concerned about the direction our leaders are taking our country. We must use our votes to ensure that each person aspiring to public office at any level will listen to and act on our concerns to the extent practical.

The four Congresswomen are well within their rights and indeed are obligated as Americans to challenge the policies and programs of President Donald Trump.

As to Trump’s suggestion that they return to their own country, this is their country.

The writer lives in Ridgeway.