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What July 4 means for November 3

What July 4 means for November 3
© Alex Wong/Getty Images

As our nation faces unprecedented challenges, the Fourth of July weekend is the perfect time to reflect on what Independence Day means to us, as individuals and as a country. What values do we want to express to the world? What image do we want to portray? And do we want to continue being a global leader, the envy and model of the world?  

As we reflect, it’s clear that we cannot continue to have Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE as the face of America, because he does not embody what this great nation stands for. Trump’s divisive, corrosive politics and policies are not reflective of who we should be.  

Do not get me wrong, I am still extremely proud to be an American. There is no other country in the world to which a young man could have come from Colombia with his wife and babies, with nothing in his pockets, and through hard work and determination put three children through college, retire with dignity, and see his grandchildren grow and prosper.  

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That man, my father, has proudly flown the American flag on our porch every July 4. He will tell you that we are not the same country today that we were when he arrived.   

America has never been perfect — not by a long shot. But it was a country that strived to live up to the words in the Pledge of Allegiance – “with liberty and justice for all” – even as progressives and communities of color have added the word “someday” to the end of it at official gatherings, to showcase the long road that still needs to be traveled.

The nation’s racial wounds have never healed and, perhaps ironically, the election of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Amanda Gorman captures national interest after inauguration performance Riding to the rescue on climate, the Biden administration needs powerful partners MORE as the country’s first African American president brought white resentment to the fore. But instead of continuing to strive for unity, the next president preyed on that resentment, giving it voice and comfort.   

Then, instead of using the presidency’s bully pulpit to bring the country together, Trump used it to continue to tear it apart along racial and ethnic lines.  

And now Trump is using the disgruntlement of his mostly white base to fuel his reelection prospects.

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Trump’s hate speech worked for him in 2016. His xenophobic rhetoric on immigration and his racial tactics focused on Muslims and African Americans helped him to win the Republican primaries. According to political analyst Ron Brownstein, Trump won by playing up “his role as the embodiment of resistance to America’s rapid demographic and cultural change.”

He tried to use these same tactics to help Republicans maintain control of Congress in 2018, with constant references to the “caravans” of immigrants heading to the Mexican border, using lies to inject fear of gang members and criminals trying to get into the U.S. 

It backfired for him in 2018. Republicans lost independent voters and white college-educated suburban women, as Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. Polling suggests that Trump has not been able to gain them back and is even losing support among non-college educated women. Trump probably cannot win without the support of all three of these groups.  

Trump is now doubling down on this strategy of hate and division in an effort to maximize his base heading into the 2020 election. He is calling Black Lives Matter a symbol of hate, he posted and then deleted a video of a man screaming “white power” and he continues to use anti-immigrant fear-mongering to rile up his base.  

It is time for Americans to figure out what kind of nation we want to be.

Do we want to be a nation that extolls the values and virtues of equality, justice and integrity? Or do we want to go down in history as a racist, xenophobic nation?

Do we want to be a nation that relies on empirical evidence, research and data, truth and science? Or do we want to be the laughingstock of the world with a White House that glorifies conspiracy theories and lies?

On this July 4, is America proud of its commander in chief and what he has done to the country? A recent Gallup poll suggests American pride is at its lowest point.   

As we face the 2020 election, Americans have a stark choice to make. The only way we can redeem our national pride, be true to our values and start the long road towards racial healing, true equality and genuine justice for all, is to vote Trump out of office in November.    

Maria Cardona is a longtime Democratic strategist and co-chair of the Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee for the party's 2020 convention. She is a principal at Dewey Square Group, a Washington-based political consulting agency, and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.