In July, the President of the United States — who is Donald J. Trump, the guy from The Apprentice, in case you didn’t know — visited President Emmanuel Macron of France and observed their festivities for Bastille Day. The celebration included a marching band playing Daft Punk and a military parade of some of the French forces. At the time, Trump said that he would love for the United States to have a similar parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. And immediately everyone collectively went, “Hmm, that’s probably not such a good idea.”
This week, Trump has returned to the thought and tasked the Pentagon with preparing for an extravagant military parade at some point in the near future. The last time the U.S. held a military parade was in 1991 after the Gulf War and that one put the government back a solid $8 million. Cost estimates haven’t been floated officially yet, but speculation is that a parade in 2018 would cost significantly more (just like everything else).
There’s also a bit of an optics problem here. Military parades are essentially a form of propaganda where the state displays it’s military prowess — and ability to blow up pretty much anything — to its people, it’s allies and most importantly, its enemies. Generally, its a very authoritarian move and customary in countries under the absolute rule of their leader. Think North Korea or Soviet Russia.
Donald Trump’s authoritarian leanings aren’t exactly new. Every time he tries to discredit the free press by calling anything that isn’t reported by Fox News “fake,” he takes a page out of the Authoritarian Handbook. Ditto every time he tries to discredit federal agencies like the FBI to muddy the results of the Russia investigation or when he calls Democrats “treasonous” for not clapping for him. Basically, it happens a lot and yes, it’s scary.
So how are people reacting to the American President’s latest near-authoritarian move? On the politics front, Democrats are balking at the amount a parade is going to cost, journalists are questioning the optics and even former military personnel are speaking out against it.
Q: Do you think a military parade is a good idea?
Q: Why not?
KENNEDY: “I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud.” pic.twitter.com/Yf9w7ob8vf
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) February 7, 2018
Retired Major General Paul Eaton says @realDonaldTrump‘s parade idea underscores his authoritarian tendencies, and that our military is not there to be “used and abused” to prop up his image.
VoteVets full statement on Trump’s orders for a military parade. pic.twitter.com/Am7uSSWZfo
— VoteVets (@votevets) February 7, 2018
A military parade costs millions. Let’s fix military housing, hire more VA doctors, fund telehealth, DOD schools, support the commissaries, daycare for families, or give more flight training time. Our highest defense priority must be the service members, not the politicians.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) February 7, 2018
Dear @realDonaldTrump: You know what would be more useful than asking the Pentagon to waste money on a big military parade?
Basically anything. https://t.co/URpOOSl46Z
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 7, 2018
We can’t afford to fund Meals on Wheels but we can afford a giant North Korea style military parade for no reason?
— Brandon Neely (@BrandonTXNeely) February 7, 2018
Other people are suggesting that the U.S. celebrate something else. Like, literally anything else. How about a parade for black grandmothers? That’s something we can all get behind, right? Right??
When are the parades to honor teachers, librarians, minimum wage workers, childcare providers, domestic workers, people w/ more than 1 low wage job, people buried under student loans, unemployed heads of households, neighborhood hustlers, & Black grandmothers? #militaryparade 🤔
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) February 7, 2018
Hey, Mr. President: Instead of copying France’s military parade, why not copy France’s health care system? Health care for all, low-cost prescription drugs, much less expensive. https://t.co/zIrLjozEOI
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 7, 2018
Here’s an idea. Stock all those tanks and military vehicles with food and water, and parade them down the streets of Puerto Rico! #militaryparade
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) February 7, 2018
— Joseph Segal (@joesegal) February 7, 2018
Thankfully the comedy side of Twitter came through with jokes for all this madness. It’s going to be okay as long as we keep our senses of humour. Well, probably not, but maybe?
Our 71-year-old President with an approval rating well below 50% is throwing a parade for himself, but please tell me more about how millennials all want “participation trophies”.
— OhNoSheTwitnt (@OhNoSheTwitnt) February 7, 2018
Did somebody say “military parade”? pic.twitter.com/37zm1MPPNg
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 7, 2018
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) February 7, 2018
DOES THE STOCK MARKET NOT REALIZE THERE’S A PARADE COMING??????
— Alt Fed Employee (@Alt_FedEmployee) February 7, 2018