Republican leaders have lost their moral compass. When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was a young politician, he called the Watergate affair "totally repugnant" and denounced the conduct of President Richard Nixon. (Rucker, 2019)
However, his most recent campaign ad shows him stoutly supporting President Trump, saying, "The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader." (Kaplan, 2019) How could a Republican leader who watched the corruption of Watergate unfurl, stand idly by as the President flaunts the fact that he invited a foreign government to interfere with our election process?
When candidate Donald Trump was caught on tape speaking of grabbing a woman by the genitals, I knew he was done politically, but to my amazement, he wasn't. When candidate Trump referred to Mexicans in the vilest terms that I had ever heard from any political leader, I thought surely he was done.
I remember as a Republican teacher, in a primarily Hispanic community, being surrounded by Hispanic students, shortly following candidate Trump's remarks. They asked me, "Mr. T, are you voting for Trump?" I remember assuring them that I would never vote for Trump. In the back of my mind, I just knew that he would never make it that far. There was no scenario that I could imagine that candidate Trump would receive the Republican Party’s nomination.
Then the unthinkable started to happen. The candidate with the least demonstrated moral character, no military service, no record of success in public office, no identification with the religious right, the one whose success as a "businessman" had been derided and ridiculed—this candidate began to emerge as the front runner.
It was clear that candidate Trump's white nationalism, anti-immigration, cut taxes for the wealthy and villainize all things Obama, were making him the candidate with the best chance to beat former first-lady, Secretary of State and Senator, Hillary Clinton. Political affiliation aside, on paper, candidate Trump's political resume did not deserve to be compared to Hillary Clinton's. However, under the "any Republican will do" banner, candidate Trump was amply qualified. We know the rest of the story.
The Republican candidate that was deemed most capable of winning the election was given the nomination, despite the lack of credentials shared by previous Republican candidates such as Ronald Regan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John McCain (governor of a large state, service in the Armed Forces of the United States, heroism in combat, distinguished record in Congress).
As the 2020 election nears and now coincides with an impeachment trial in the Senate, there is still the palpable, yet incomprehensible sense that Republican leaders will ride the elephant until it dies while carrying the banner "any Republican will do." The following quotes mirror the exasperation that I feel:
“Republicans largely stood behind Trump in 2016 after the release of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape on which he bragged of sexual assault, as well as during the darkest days of the Russia investigation and in the wake of racist comments.
‘It feels like we've been constantly moving the line,’ said Tom Rath, a GOP fixture in New Hampshire. ‘We say, 'Don't cross this line.' Okay, you crossed it. So, 'Don't cross this line.' We're finally at a point where patience is exhausted, reason is exhausted and, quite frankly, the voters are exhausted." (Rucker, 2019)
“The GOP's paralysis was on display this past week in Templeton, Iowa, where a voter confronted Sen. Joni Ernst (R) at a town hall meeting Thursday over her silence about Trump's conduct. ‘Where is the line?’ Iowa resident Amy Haskins asked in frustration. ‘When are you guys going to say, 'Enough,' and stand up and say, 'You know what? I'm not backing any of this.'" (Rucker, 2019)
Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, who is admired by Trump and occasionally speaks with him, co-wrote an essay in the Daily Caller last week offering a road map for Republicans, writing that "there's no way to spin" Trump's request that a foreign leader investigate one of his domestic opponents as proper, but that it did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. (Rucker, 2019)
We know that the Russians tampered with our elections as if we were a third-world country. Who knew before it happened that it was possible for a foreign country to affect the election results of the most powerful nation on Earth?
Remember the "hanging chads" in Florida? Do you remember the questions of unfairness that seemed to linger over the Bush-Gore results, when President Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, appeared to have some possible impact on the outcome of how chads were dealt with? There are still some Democrats talking about how Bush "stole the election."
On a scale galactically greater in magnitude, the Russians tampered with U.S. election results, and Republican leaders have helped downplay its impact because it helped the "any Republican will do" candidate win and further discussion of it might diminish his chance of winning again in the future.
Since the election, we know that the President joked publicly with Vladimir Putin about not tampering with the next election. And far more gravely, we understand that the President and members of his staff have sought the aid of a foreign government (Ukraine) to affect the outcome of the 2020 elections.
The President showed absolutely no remorse in inviting Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Moreover, before he was impeached by the House of Representatives, President Trump publicly stated that he would welcome China's assistance in investigating the Bidens: "China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine."
Also, in the ultimate example of "fake news," it was been brought to light that the President and key members of his staff sought the aid of foreign countries (Australia, UK) to try to discredit the U.S. intelligence agencies' assertion that the Russians tampered with the 2016 election. The aim was to prove that the tampering never happened or that is was done by the Ukrainians. (Julian E. Barnes, 2019)
This is Watergate on steroids. President Nixon only sought to have an advantage over one Democratic candidate. Our current President sits on the precipice of twice gaining an advantage over a Democratic opponent through the assistance of a foreign government.
I am a Reagan-era, military man who spent 28 years in a uniform. We spent so many years preparing for the Russian and Chinese, communist, threat, viewing Russia and China as America's greatest enemies. We were made to study how the U.S. fought both these countries by proxy in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan.
Perhaps, that seriously affects my view of the President's coziness with President Putin and his failure to outright condemn him for Russia's involvement in the 2016 elections. It causes me even greater alarm when I think of a sitting US President inviting China to become a factor in the presidential elections.
"My Republican colleagues' silence seems unsustainable and inexcusable, given the threat to our national security as well as the integrity of our democratic institutions," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) (Rucker, 2019)
These matters are far larger than the Republican Party; they are as Senator Blumenthal said, matters of national security. No two countries pose a more significant threat to the security of our nation. These nations are not our friends. They are not friends of Democracy. If we are cooperating with them, there will be a price to pay, even if it's just a lowering of our defenses, taking our eye off the fact that they are more than just ideological rivals, but economic and military rivals as well.
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