Rudolph Fillinger | Disenchanted Former Republican

Letters to the Editor
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President Donald Trump ran on the slogan “Make America Great Again.” As of July 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.8 million in July, while the unemployment rate stood at 10.2%. The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. exceeds 5 million and the death toll stands at more than 170,000. When asked by Wolf Bitzer on CNN, Jared Krushner, the son-in-law of Trump, praised the response to the virus despite losing 1,000 souls every day. When queried by Axios Jonathan Swan on the same issue, Trump responded, “It is what it is.” Frontline responders continue to report shortages of personal protective equipment and lack of reliable fast-response testing that would enable contact tracing essential to controlling the spread of COVID-19.  

“In the Trump years, Republicans have sent a message that lying is useful and productive, racism is acceptable, the press is the enemy, and a strong-man authoritarian head of government is ideal.” (“It Was All A Lie — How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,” Stuart Stevens,). Stevens, a successful, longtime Republican operative, offers a personnel devastating account of a party that has lost its moral and political bearings. 

Trump believes he’s the “Chosen One.” According to Trump, America needs saving and only he can do it. While he falsely claims the Democrats will violate your Second Amendment right to bear arms, he tramples over everyone’s First Amendment right to peaceful protest and the freedom of the press. 

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt describe four key indicators of authoritarian behavior: 1) rejection of (or weak commitment to) democratic rules of the game; 2) denial of legitimacy of political opponents; 3) toleration or encouragement of violence; 4) readiness to curtail civil liberties of opponents, including media. These four key indicators of authoritarian behavior are strikingly similar to Madeleine Albright’s definition of a fascist, “to my mind, a fascist is someone who identifies strongly with and claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use whatever means are necessary — including violence — to achieve his or her goals.” I’ll leave the analysis to the historians and political scientists. However, I fear that our democracy is under assault and that we need to carefully consider the events of the current administration over the past three years. 

As a moderate Republican for the better part of 65 years, I believe in a strong defense, fiscal responsibility, and the rule of law. I agree that our tax burden is too high for average Americans, not huge corporations, and that everyone has the right to health care and an equal opportunity to succeed. While I don’t agree with the unconditional support of undocumented aliens, I vehemently disagree with the policy of separating families and locking adults and children in separate cages at the border and the wasteful erection of a wall on our southern border. We need innovative ideas and solutions to our immigration problems. 

The constant and prevalent polarization that permeates the halls of our government is hurting everyday Americans. While the president continues his assault on our democracy, Americans are being evicted from their homes, small businesses are closing and men, women, and children are dying from COVID-19. The president should be meeting with his COVID task force to provide meaningful support to every American suffering from the pandemic. Every elected official should be working overtime to fortify the lives of all Americans and to ensure the security of our upcoming elections. 

If I’m honest with myself I must admit that I supported many Republican candidates from Ronald Reagen to Mitt Romney whether I truly believed in their candidacy or not. I did not cast a vote for any presidential candidate in the 2016 election. I simply didn’t believe anyone deserved my vote. In 2020 I plan to vote for Joe Biden, not because I believe in every issue he supports or that I believe entirely in the Democratic platform, but because I believe Joe Biden respects our democracy and is a decent man. I believe our democracy is at risk of dying. Trump believes in Trump. That’s why I became an independent and why I joined the Lincoln Project. 

Regardless of which candidates you plan to support in the 2020 election, do yourself and your family and friends a favor. Before you cast your vote ask yourself the simple question, does he or she exhibit the character and decency that you try to exhibit in living your life? God bless America. On Nov. 3, exercise your right to vote!

Rudolph Fillinger 

Valencia

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