“Am I the only one who finds it maddening, not only to consider the indisputable reality that the cult of Trump is dragging us over the cliff into dictatorship, but how they’re doing it?…”
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If the right would come clean
By Steve Klinger
Am I the only one who finds it maddening, not only to consider the indisputable reality that the cult of Trump is dragging us over the cliff into dictatorship, but how they’re doing it?
In the charade of a legal defense for Trump at his impeachment trial, his team has tried everything from outright lies to distortions to asking senators to empathize with what the poor defendant must be going through. Frantic backroom pressure is being applied to GOP senators wavering on how they’ll vote on calling witnesses. The White House has sent a letter to John Bolton, warning him to refrain from publishing his memoir, in which he reportedly states the president told him of a damning quid pro quo regarding aid to Ukraine and other acts that would bolster the House’s charges that Trump abused executive power.
Republicans have twisted themselves into bizarre sailors’ knots of tortured logic to argue that Trump was motivated by trying to fight Ukrainian corruption, that the real issue is actually ( the thoroughly discredited conspiracy theory of) Ukraine’s interference in the 2016 election, or Democrats’ longstanding conspiracy to remove Trump through impeachment after failing to beat him at the ballot box, that even if he did what he’s accused of (the “so what defense”), it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachability, that the House managers and speaker are corrupt, evil, witch-hunting, hyperpartisan, fraudulent, unpatriotic traitors.
As Harvard professor emeritus of constitutional law Lawrence Tribe has stated, the latest argument of Trump defender Alan Dershowitz that Trump’s acts are not impeachable is an indefensible stance with virtually no support from respected legal scholars. Its logical conclusion that Trump should be acquitted because he did not violate criminal statutes is absurd from any but a cult-driven perspective. On Wednesday, Dershowitz proclaimed an even more dizzying leap of logic: If Trump wanted help from Ukraine because his re-election quest is in the national interest, then any such act is not impeachable. The ramifications of such thinking are nightmarish for democracy, but Republicans seem to be going along with the argument. And if that approach doesn’t gain traction, I would submit to you that Trump’s defenders would find a way to declare him innocent no matter what transgression he committed because to the right there is no such thing as an impeachable offense (unless it’s a Democrat). Bribery? Well, that’s within the scope of his authority over conducting foreign policy. Extortion? Show us the evidence, even though we won’t let you have the documents and witnesses that might prove it. Murder with a handgun on Fifth Avenue? Video manipulation by the Deep State conspiracy, or maybe Trump’s shot missed but Democrats secretly fired the fatal bullet from a grassy knoll.
There’s an old chestnut that when the answer is no, the questions are irrelevant. The bottom line is that there are two avenues of support for Trump that have grown and proliferated from a variety of circumstances but seem to have conflated into an unstoppable juggernaut. The Republican base of voters, driven by fear, frustrated by a loss of hope, disappointed by fragmented, single-issue Democrats, brainwashed by right-wing media, hardened by decades of culture wars, simply don’t care. Trump has persuaded them he is their champion, despite policies and behavior directly to the contrary, and they have cast their lot with him, for better or worse. Regrettably, this includes most evangelical Christians, who have turned a blind eye to Trump’s vulgarity, immorality and blatantly un-Christian behavior. Their conclusion? He was chosen by God, and so be it.
Trump’s other lifeline has been the GOP—including its donors and elected leaders. Any Republican running for re-election or contemplating a future in the party has become terrified of Trump’s scorched-earth vindictiveness in attacking his critics, let alone his declared enemies. Privately, they concede their unhappiness with his behavior, but they fear both his revenge and the retaliation of his voting base.
Okay, we know all this, and we have for some time, though we keep hoping that just a few will grow enough of a backbone to say enough is enough. But evil has no depths, and the addiction to power seems to have no limits.
Still, is it absolutely necessary to insult our intelligence with these patently absurd arguments and defenses? Whatever happened to good old Machiavellianism? Wouldn’t you at least like to hear someone on the right with the courage to tell it like it is? Something like the following?
Yes, there is no doubt Trump abused power in advancing his own interests by blocking aid to Ukraine over which he had no proper authority. Yes, he used a quid pro quo to dangle a meeting with Zelensky on condition the Ukrainians announce an investigation of his political rival. Yes, he endangered American security interests, compromised the security of our Ukraine ally, improperly maligned and removed a highly respected U.S. diplomat. And yes, he obstructed and impeded a constitutionally sanctioned congressional investigation by withholding key documents and ordering witnesses not to testify. Oh, and of course he welcomed Russian help in the 2016 election, badmouthed and fired DOJ officials and staffers, intimidated witnesses, demeaned the office of the presidency, ruined our international reputation as a world leader, encouraged racists, instigated violence, established and enforced inhumane policies toward immigrants, including innocent children and their families, mocked the handicapped, disparaged and discriminated against minorities, gutted federal agencies, reversed decades of progress on environmental regulation, encouraged and abetted fossil-fuel industry growth, slandered and libeled his enemies, vilified the media and endangered journalists’ lives, and so forth. Sorry if I forgot anything.
But we his defenders and enablers stand before you to acknowledge all this and declare it has all been absolutely necessary to protect white Americans from the forces of socialism, mass immigration and the inevitable rise of minority rule under our current system of representative democracy. We have had no choice to protect your privilege, your stuff and your future—and of course our own jobs, riches and power. Democracy and liberty are words we use to spread capitalism and lure American youth into service as cannon fodder in foreign wars. We exploit the Bill of Rights to defend freedom of speech for corporations and the right to bear arms, both to enrich the weapons industry and extend the illusion of power under a false interpretation of the Second Amendment.
Okay, we admit it. We are liars, thieves and hypocrites. We have no ideology, save that the end justifies the means. We do it all for you, so you can keep your stuff and not feel threatened by dark-skinned, foreign hordes who want to suck you dry and rape your women. Remember, we’ve got the weapons and we’ve got the reins of government—the Senate, the White House, the Supreme Court and the military.
Now, which side are you on?
Steve Klinger is a veteran community journalist and college English instructor based in southern New Mexico. Frequently skeptical about the capacity of the written word to inspire activism, he also writes songs, hoping to add the power of music to his topical lyrics.
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