“Make America Great Again” became a great slogan for candidate Donald Trump, one that inspired his base and fueled his run for president.

For 2019, wouldn’t it be better to just make America kind again?

Even as the country enjoys a vibrant economy, the divide grows between the haves and have-nots. With many economists predicting a recession, one wonders how that might be different if the trickle down effect were instead a case of a rising tide lifting all boats.

Creating a strong middle class is what Trump promised, but that ship has sailed; the rich are getting richer and the homeless are still without a place to live.

Rather than just dump on Trump, our nation should be looking for answers — we need our politicians to step up. As I write early for the holidays, the government shutdown is looming. President Trump is holding the Democrats hostage for his wall and, chest puffed out, says he will take the heat on a “Trump shutdown,” because border sovereignty is worth a game of Russian roulette, plus it keeps his base fired up and the Mueller investigation from being front-page news.

The Democrats don’t make it better, refusing to budge; standing on moral high ground does little to move us forward. Bi-partisanship is looked on as a weakness, not a strength, in Washington by politicians on both sides.

There is a middle ground; there is always a middle ground.

Usually it starts with what you believe both sides to agree on; moving forward from there. In this case, most politicians believe in secured borders with rules of engagement; saying that Democrats want “open borders” only incites both sides. Whether a fence or wall is the answer is debatable; let's rely on studies and work together to achieve the goal. Take care of the DACAs while ending the separation of children from their families. Start vetting the immigrant population in a better, more humane manner.

The fear that gangs, drug dealers and felons are streaming into our country is more about boogey men in the closet than reality. There are bad people in our society; some are illegal immigrants, and others are U.S. citizens. This should be about the vetting process, not about fear, best if guided by common sense.

What does a kinder America look like? It starts with more emphasis on character than ideology. When you read that 68 percent of Americans think Trump is a liar, there is pause to reflect. One thing stands out; 32 percent think he is truthful — that’s one in three people who don’t believe the fact-checkers, don’t believe his own tweets or videos that contradict whatever truth he is living in the moment. That’s fascinating.

Then you’ve got his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, double-speaking that there was no collusion, but even if there was, it is not a crime, and saying that paying off a porn star and a Playboy model prove that he didn’t have sex with them; if he had he would have had to pay them a lot more than he did. Plus, even if he did have sex with them, and he did pay for their silence, there is no crime.

Trump gets constant reinforcement from Fox news commentators, Judge Judy, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, who all continue narratives about fake news, deep state, no collusion and Hillary should be in jail, rather than trying to unmask the man behind the curtain. Mueller and his “witch hunt” and a narrative that Melania is the most maligned first lady in history make fun television, but the runaround keeps us from truth.

Former FBI Director James Comey took a moral stance that his detractors thought was hypocritical when he blasted Republicans for not standing up to our president. He was firm in his criticism and claimed that not making a stand defined their party and is sending our country into the abyss.

This is about character and Comey is right that our elected officials must step up and be leaders. When our president continues to tweet and call names, it tells us what kind of country we are. When the leader of the free world goes on television and twitter and refers to his former attorney as a “rat,” it sounds like a mob boss referring to someone from his inner circle turning on him.

In the case of Michael Cohen, calling him a “rat” doesn’t deflect the allegations of wrongdoing and illegal activities. In the case of Giuliani comparing the Mueller investigation with going after “unpaid parking tickets,” one wonders if the power of rhetoric will be derailed as truths continue to come out.

Just like in the Nixon presidency, the noose is tightening as the investigation continues.

Will it lead to justice? Will it lead to a kinder America? Time will tell.

Happy 2019 to all; may we embrace our similarities and our differences.

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“Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power.”

— Chelsea Manning, activist, whistleblower (b. 1987)