I’m not super-hyped about casting my vote in the 2020 presidential elections. I know I should be; all freedom-loving Americans should be. Many of us, I’m sure, have been emotionally and spiritually dazed by the ongoing assault on the U.S. Constitution and our democracy, led by a president run amok.
The authoritarian power given to Donald J. Trump during his reign has signaled the dimming of America as that enviable “shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.” That’s the America Ronald Reagan proudly and passionately envisioned during his presidency in the 1980s. Under Trump, character, integrity, and fairness for all – qualities that helped make our country a worthy model to the rest of the world – have been dangerously eroded. It has been replaced by dishonesty, divisiveness and evil — all of which have already subverted the foundation of our democracy. Will we still have a democracy after the election in November? I wonder.
What if Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s favorite U.S. president continues to engage in political skullduggery comparable to that used by despots to guarantee dictatorial victories in so-called free elections? I suspect he will. If Trump does, would Attorney General William Barr and the Mitch McConnell-led Republican-controlled Senate continue to defend him, protect him and obey any order – illegal or otherwise – given by our Commander-in-Chief? I suspect they will. And if our judicial branch bangs its gavel in sync with Trump’s tunes of disruption, defiance and demagoguery, then our lives, our dreams, indeed, the world, would be forever changed. Now, America totters on the edge of an abyss, and too many of our Republican leaders and compatriots seem focused on helping America lose its balance. Once again, greed, ambition and white power have become more important than love of country.
For several years, I believed that relentless rhetoric generated by several right-wing pundits — including Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan — combined with Congressional disrespect and disdain toward Barack Obama during his 2008-2012 tenure as president, re-ignited the racially-tinged flame that had been dormant in the underbelly of many Republican advocates of white supremacy. When Obama became president, Limbaugh publicly announced that he wanted him to fail and McConnell vowed to make Obama “a one-term president.” Buchanan, railing against Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, said, in essence, that this country was founded by whites, built by whites and should be run by whites. In a wasteful attempt to kill Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the House of Representatives, then under Republican leadership, held 70 votes to repeal the ACA, which provides healthcare coverage for more than 20 million people. The bill was rejected 70 times by the Senate.
It’s clear now that Trump’s “Make America Great Again” base isn’t following the right-wing pundits and Republican hierarchy’s march back to white supremacy — they are leading it. Trump’s supporters proudly show up at every Klan-like rally, sans hoods, knowing that his presence demands attention from the media and the rest of the world. He gives them the red meat they crave and in return they give him the anything-you-want-you can-have love he needs.
Estimated at about 35% of the population, Trump’s base is blind to his un-American-like flaws. He mocked a physically handicapped journalist, has refused to disclose his tax returns, can’t complete a sentence without telling a lie, and still his base remains rock solid. Trump has bragged that he could “shoot someone in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue” and not lose any voters, and that, it seems, is no lie. Trump aims to please his base at whatever cost.
Under Trump, favoritism struts pass fairness and loyalty is far more important than integrity. For generations, our country’s seminal phrase of inspiration to its children has been: “Be the best that you can be.” Under Trump, “Be on my side or else,” is the motto that keeps most of his staff, base and fellow Republican lawmakers in lockstep. Earlier this month, Republican senators knew that if they had abandoned him during his impeachment trial, his base would surely desert them in the November elections.
The question now is, will Trump followers continue to support its supreme leader even if he decides to seize the presidency before the elections and urge Putin to send Russian soldiers to help keep the peace during America’s transition from democracy to dictatorship? Can anyone stop that from happening? Will anyone try? I wonder.