I was reminded by an overnight TV news analysis of the off-year elections that we are two-and-a-half years from July Fourth 2026, the 250th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence. That means we’re approaching a grand Quarter Millennial birthday celebration of the United States of America – either that or a pitched battle for survival of democracy as we know it. So long as Donald Trump remains the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, we’re at risk of that historical catastrophe.
Whether or not you support Trump’s candidacy makes little difference to him as long as you send him cash. He can’t be bothered to show up for debates because the disgraced ex-president has zero tolerance for elections that don’t guarantee his “victory.” They’re either rigged against him or he’ll try to rig them in his favor, or bust – as in getting busted. Again. His political ambition, aside from staying out of jail with presidential immunity, is to achieve the status of bullies and thugs he so admires, including war criminals (Putin) and nuke-happy lunatics (Kim).
The United States is by far and away the most powerful nation in world history. Such power is deadly dangerous in the hands of a pathological narcissist who, when he isn’t lying, gets it all wrong due to colossal ignorance about everything except promoting himself while cheating and denigrating anyone who holds him accountable. It makes him a greater national security menace than even our declared foreign enemies. Would you trust him not to sell to the highest bidder top-secret documents he stole from the White House and hid despite myriad federal subpoenas?
Now, under the stress of serial indictments and the civil trial that challenges his reputation as a billionaire and threatens to put his “empire” out of business, he’s gone bonkers. At a rally staged as counter-programing to the latest GOP debate he skipped, he once again displayed his geopolitical dyslexia by placing Hungary on the border of both Russia and Ukraine while complimenting its leader, Viktor Orban, for implicitly supporting Putin’s war. And in the next breath he gushed about the dictatorial rule of Kim Jong Un by observing that “1.4 million North Koreans know who’s boss.” Trump can’t even seem to remember who he ran against in 2016 and who he’ll likely face in ’24, proclaiming that he “beat Obama when no one said I could” and would beat him again.
Yet virtually the entire Republican Party has been turned into a MAGA cult. The vast majority of elected Republicans and party apparatchiks who should know better – even those who do know that he’d ruin the GOP and endanger national security – are too cowardly to stand against him. Looking to the House of Representatives as an example of what MAGA Republicans would do with a majority in both houses of Congress and the out-for-revenge Donald in the Oval Office, it amounts to accessory to insurrection to vote for ANY Republican who fails to denounce Trump as unfit, not only for president, but also for any position of authority in or out of government.
While I’m not saying never mind all the felony and civil charges on his rap sheet, I am saying that worse even than all his self-inflicted legal troubles is his aberrant lack of human empathy. Who routinely speaks ill of the dead? Who calls military heroes who died defending their country “suckers and losers”? Who would say that to the father of such a hero at the foot of the soldier’s grave at Arlington? Why didn’t John F. Kelly, a retired general and Trump’s first White House chief of staff, sock him in the jaw? Because he knew that without some presence of a decent person not afraid to tell him, “no, you can’t do this,” Trump would wind up inciting a violent mob somewhere along the line. It’s a miracle someone hasn’t yet been assassinated at his incendiary bidding. Any number of decent people in various capacities at the White House, in his Cabinet or chairing the Joint Chiefs of Staff hung on, at least in part, for that reason.
It started with Senator John McCain, especially after he cast the vote that defeated Trump’s determination to nullify Barack Obama by overturning the signature triumph of his predecessor as president – the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Trump called McCain a “loser” because he got shot out of the sky over Vietnam and courageously remained in the “Hanoi Hilton,” tortured for five years while refusing to be released until his fellow American POWs were released with him. Even though he was commander-in-chief, Trump was not invited to McCain’s funeral. But he is never remorseful. In 2018, at the centennial of the end of World War I, Trump refused to visit the American cemetery near Paris because it, too, was “filled with losers.” And in his post-presidency, he berated Mark Milley on the occasion of the Army general’s retirement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Trump called Milley a “moron” and “traitor” – seems that he’s projecting again – who should be “executed” for calling allies and potential adversaries, principally China, to reassure them after the Jan. 6 insurrection that there would be no surprise military attacks on his watch.
There are also many egregious policy decisions by President Trump that the United States is still trying to recover from: canceling negotiations to thwart Iran’s efforts to become a nuclear military power, withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement to address the existential threat of climate change, and cheating with Mitch McConnell’s help to pack the Supreme Court with the intention to overturn Roe v. Wade. Be careful what you wish for, Donald. Go ahead and run on bragging about that! It appears to be a guaranteed loser.
But it is Trump’s open contempt for the military that should automatically disqualify him for the presidency. He’s repeatedly said out loud that injured and maimed veterans should be kept out of sight. The presence of amputees “doesn’t look good for me,” thinking only of himself as he also did in expressing contempt for Gold Star families during 2016 campaign rallies. To vote for Trump to be our commander-in-chief, again, is to surrender to the cult leader of the enemy within and the greatest threat to our freedom as a democracy.
As John Kelly put it in a CNN interview: “There is nothing else that can be said. God help us.”