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Column: The Reality Is Far Worse Than Anyone Thought



For the Valley News
Saturday, November 03, 2018

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This proverb dates from the 4th century BC, proving the timelessness of the obvious.

Obvious or not, it is a critically important notion heading into Tuesday’s midterm election. The logical corollary to this proverb is “The friend of my enemy is my enemy.” I have reached the point that I will not pretend to be tolerant of anyone — whether neighbor, relative, colleague or old friend—– who supports the Republican Party.

Donald Trump is manifestly unfit for office and has done more harm to our country in two years than any elected official in contemporary history. But, to borrow from the childish snake poem Trump read on the campaign trail, “Oh, shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin. “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

Oh yes, we knew — or should have known. Despite deep despair on election night I had, at that point, given a smidgeon of benefit of the doubt to Republicans supporting or voting for him while holding their noses. Partisan politics sometimes requires nose-holding in service of more important ideals or, as some might see it, voting for the lesser of two evils. Even I thought, naively, that Trump’s campaign shtick was partly an act intended to dominate media coverage. It certainly did that.

But like predictions of recent New York Knicks seasons, the reality is far worse than the most pessimistic prognostication. The man is hell-bent on destroying the civility and institutions that have sustained America through several centuries. Anyone — everyone — aiding and abetting this man should be ashamed.

The Republican Party is corrupt to its core. Many have accurately acknowledged that it has, in two short years, become the party of Trump. Therefore any support, any vote, for a Republican candidate is further enabling Trump and the damage he is doing.

The GOP is engaging in persistent election fraud in the midterms. We have more to fear from GOP operatives than from Russian hackers. Immigrants in Dodge City, Kan., are being denied reasonable access to polling places. The Georgia secretary of state, who is the GOP gubernatorial candidate, has withheld registrations of significant numbers of minority voters. Wrong dates for submitting ballots were printed on fliers sent to Democratic voters — in one case by the same Republican candidate for the second election in a row! In Virginia, a GOP consulting group dumped registrations in the trash. Intimidating billboards have been erected to repress voting in communities of color. A campaign in Florida told Democratic voters they could vote by phone. An Ohio county sent out 2,300 mailers listing the election date as Nov. 8. There are more examples than space allows.

Trump has told more than 5,000 well-documented lies. He has encouraged hooligan type violence at his rallies and used code like “nationalist” and “America First” to align his party with white supremacy and anti-Semitism. He calls our free press the enemy of the people. He insults and demeans desperate immigrants seeking refuge from unthinkable violence. He crudely admits to groping women. He has been credibly accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct. He paid off a porn star, thereby earning citation as an unindicted co-conspirator in a campaign finance felony. He enriches himself in violation of the Constitution.

The lack of courage among Republican lawmakers is disgusting. We constantly hear that most Republicans “off the record” acknowledge that Trump is ignorant and appalling. But they ride his obscene coattails anyway. I suppose selling your soul for a few judges who will rein in regulation and allow free choice in every realm but a woman’s body is a Faustian bargain they’ll accept.

There are a great many issues where good women and men may disagree. So-called liberals and conservatives may argue in good conscience about the tension between taxation and vibrant enterprise. We might debate the efficacy of social programs and the boundary between personal responsibility and the social contract. We can discuss climate change (not its reality) in terms of the most effective and least economically costly ways to mitigate its sources and effects. We can disagree about the role of government, the best criminal justice practices or the ways to fund our schools or health care system. I have had all of these discussions with friends, neighbors and relatives over many years — with passion and civility.

But not now. The Republican Party has sold its soul to a monster. A vote for any Republican candidate is affirmation of the most despicable administration in our history. Any elected official or candidate who does not publicly rebuke this man and this political party should be voted out of office. There is no rationale. There are no excuses. Don’t bother with, “But I’m not like that.” You can’t stay in a club that discriminates and claim those aren’t your values. You can’t go to Klan meetings because you like the food. At this point, to torture the cliché: You broke it, you bought it. Vote Democratic, vote independent or start a new political party.

We are all being poisoned.

Steve Nelson lives in Boulder, Colo., and Sharon. Email him at stevehutnelson@gmail.com.