It has been reported frequently that many Republicans in Congress are alarmed about having Donald Trump as the president of the United States. And that these Republican “leaders” express their alarm only in private, off the record. (All this is so widely reported that I’m persuaded it’s true.)
It is clear why they avoid letting their people know about the threat they see: they know that the great majority of the Republican base “approves” of Trump, and they fear losing their positions of power if they tell truths their voters don’t want to hear.
Consider what this shows about these Republican leaders: they see a real threat to the nation but – in order to protect their own position – they do nothing to address that threat. Worse, they choose to be accomplices of the president whom they know poses a real danger to the nation.
Is someone who sells out the nation in order to stay in office worthy of the public’s trust?
Any real patriot – among those Republicans in Congress who recognize the threat that Trump poses to America – would be telling their people the important truth that, for the good of the nation, they need to know. “For the good of the nation,” since it is apparently the beliefs of Republican voters that are preventing the Republican opportunists in Congress from addressing the threat that they see.
Yes, it’s true: they quite likely would pay a political cost for doing their patriotic duty. But it’s not as though “falling on their swords” would be such a terrible sacrifice.
Millions of Americans have risked their lives, many even losing their lives, to defend the interests and value these Republican leaders are betraying.
But even in the worst-case scenario for these Republicans – losing re-election – their sacrifice would fall very far short of their lying dead on some beach in the South Pacific, or suffering life-changing wounds, or enduring PTSD for the rest of their lives because of the horrors they were compelled to experience.
No, for these Republican leaders what falling on their swords means is more like going back to private life – still well provided for, free to live comfortable lives with their families, respected in their communities.
But they aren’t patriotic enough to make even that sacrifice.
Weigh that minor sacrifice against these profound and visible dangers to our common future:
1) Threat to our Constitutional order: A book could be written about the various ways that Trump has been assaulting our constitutional democracy. But one might cite simply this recent example: we’ve just witnessed Trump become the first president to run roughshod over Congress’s constitutional right to refuse a president’s funding he wants.
2) Threat to American national security: Suffice it to say that evidence has piled up suggesting quite strongly that Trump has been serving the interests of America’s main enemy – who we know helped him become president – at the expense of the interests, national security, and standing of the United States in the world.
3) Threat to our global environment: Trump has made the United States the only nation in the world (out of almost 200) that is not party to the Paris Accord, the best attempt so far to deal with what the scientists – including Trump’s own scientists – say represents the greatest challenge that human civilization has yet faced.
4) Threat of major war: Regarding Trump’s being America’s commander-in-chief in this dangerous world, suffice it to say that Kellyanne Conway’s husband has lately noted that Trump decides American foreign policy according to his own narcissistic needs rather than what’s good for the nation. Never before have we had so much reason to wonder whether an American president would make a decision to engage in war based on his judgment of what’s best for the country.
So what are patriotic, principled Republican voters who recognize these dangers, and the failure of their leaders to put the good of the nation ahead of their own ambitions, to do?
First, they should call their representatives in Congress and pledge to support them in doing the right thing for the nation.
Second, they should reject any politicians who recognize the threat but fail to protect the nation.
Third, call upon all other Republican leaders – including those at the state level – and say: “Show us what kind of Republican you are. The kind who will tell the people what the nation needs for them to know? Or the opportunistic kind for whom their own political careers matter more than the safety and future of America?”
And fourth, those Republican voters who see the threat should also talk with their fellow citizens about this reality which, however unpleasant, a lot of people are going to need to absorb for the safety and well-being of our beloved nation.