Each day there is a new outrage from Donald Trump. From Tweeting a video that claimed “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat,” to calling for “total domination” in major US cities, to desecrating the image of a Bible and using force against peaceful protesters in order to pose for a political photo. As George Will recently wrote, with Trump, there is no bottom.
Donald Trump’s actions have so demeaned and debased our country and the role of president, that we’ve become accustomed to them. Things we previously thought unimaginable (a president who makes racist statements and calls a free press the ‘enemy’ of the people, who explicitly supports political violence, who lies to the face of Americans without reproach or consequence) have become commonplace in the United States.
Trump’s actions have become normalized and legitimized.
He has not been removed from office. Only one sitting national Republican—Justin Amash—has left the party in protest of his fundamental unfitness. His lies, autocratic tendencies, and dismantling of legislative and executive safeguards continue without consequence—or sometimes even notice.
After nearly four years, we have seen enough to know who and what this man is. And every single Republican senator or representative who does not explicitly condemn Trump’s behavior, or call for his removal—either now or through the November presidential election—is complicit in any further abuses, mismanagement, or crimes that will occur under his watch.
Republicans who were elected to serve the interests of our country continue to look away, believing they are not responsible. But they are. We all are.
I spent three years working in the Bush White House. Many other lifelong Republicans and conservatives have spoken out against Trump. And despite what his sycophantic supporters will tell you, we are neither members of a Deep State nor closeted radicals trying to subvert the will of the people.
We are Americans who love this country, and in many cases, have dedicated years of our lives to public service. Many are men and women who served in uniform, vowing to support and defend the Constitution and bear true faith and allegiance to our country.
And now we would like to know: Where are the elected members of the Republican party who are willing to do the same?
Admiral Mike Mullen, who served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bush, broke his silence this week, writing: “I have . . . been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.”
General Michael Hayden, who led the CIA and NSA, did the same, taking to his Twitter account to speak out against Trump and his attempts to co-opt the military for political purposes.
And now retired general James Mattis, Trump’s first secretary of Defense, has spoken out, saying he is “angry and appalled” about what has unfolded this week.
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief,” Mattis wrote.
Equating the president’s governing tactics with those used by Nazi Germany, Mattis went on to say that “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”
These are not left-wing radicals. These are men who spent their lives fighting on the front lines to protect and defend this country. Compare that to Donald Trump—a would-be-general, who has tried to use America’s most sacred institution to project the image of strength and confidence that we all know he so fundamentally lacks.
Donald Trump is not strong. He is weak.
But in his weakness, he is dangerous. He represents the antithesis of everything that millions of Americans have given their lives, blood, and treasure for over the past 250 years. We cannot allow ourselves to become numb to his efforts to destabilize the fundamental tenets of American democracy.
We can no longer allow him to weaponize the office of the president and destroy our national character and reputation.
We need leadership. We need compassion. And we need Republican senators and representatives who love this country more than they love their own political fortunes, and are willing to do what is right, even if it will cost them election in November.
Enough is enough. Trump must go.