Gary Horton | GOP Leaders: Change Course While We Can

Gary Horton

“Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.” So said Donald Trump himself at his inauguration six years and a world ago. 

Well, I guess THAT decorum of power transfer works only one way. If anyone ever had a claim to “Stop the Steal,” it would have been Hillary Clinton, between Russian troll farms and James Comey’s meddling. Yet, there at Trump’s inauguration, supportively sat Hillary and Barack and Joe – all being very well behaved about the whole thing – as stunning and close as that election loss was. Well behaved to the point of Trump thanking them, saying they were, “magnificent.” 

Consider how much better America could and would be right now, had Trump taken his own lead, graciously accepting his own defeat, providing for an orderly transition to President Joe Biden. Think of how much saner America would have been, had Trump taken the high road, as so many of his predecessors. The voting machine stories were all fake, and Trump’s attempt at a legalistically contorted coup leading up to a riot at the Capitol was all god-awful manipulation to prevent the proper and orderly transition of power he had praised just four years prior. So much of what divides us now would have been sidestepped and we’d have a more functional and orderly America. 

You and I paid the price for all Trump’s selfish insanity, and we continue to pay the price today with politics polarized to breaking points. 

Trump continued his inaugural, “What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.” I’ll call strange half-truths on that. With Trump, it isn’t which party controls our government, what matters is that the government is controlled by Trump. It’s not about the people and never has been. It’s Trump, 24/7 Trump, all the time Trump, with one man’s yuge ego bludgeoning the foundations of our republic. 

“America will start winning again, winning like never before.” Meh. It didn’t feel like winning on Jan. 6 as Trump rioters stormed the Capitol. It didn’t feel like winning when Trump elevated the “Proud Boys” and the rest of the white Christian nationalist terrorists. It felt like we’d suffered a failed coup and we would be cleaning up the mess for years to come. And we are. 

Groundhog Day: He’s back. Neither Ron DeSantis nor Nikki Hailey nor anyone else will bump Trump off this perch atop what used to be the conservative Republican Party. Whatever the national Republican Party was, today it exists to protect Trump, and push Trump agendas designed to keep Trump’s inexhaustible wrath at bay. No one wants a new Trump-designated nickname. 

Continued Trump: “At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”  

Whoever wrote this line in the speech must still be laughing out loud. Never have we been this divided. Never has one party sought so strongly to marginalize the vulnerable. Never has the rule of law been so trampled. Trump’s view of “patriotism” has no room for collaboration, no room for compromise, no acceptance of democracy, and little space for compassion — save to service Trump himself. 

“We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.”  

If only this god of this godless president would protect us from all the guns Trump and his friends unleashed on our streets. God isn’t protecting any of us from this self-induced plague. Now, beyond school shootings and every imaginable mass shooting, we’ve got our newest slaughter-trend: fear-based driveway, porch, opened-the-wrong-car-door, and basketball-rolled-through-my-yard “shoot first, ask questions later” shootings – of neighbor against neighbor. It is said, “God will not be mocked.” We dared God to protect us while we littered our society with war weapons. And sure enough, God won’t be mocked. God isn’t taking the bait. He’s left us alone to suffer, literally at the hands of our own devices. 

But wait, there’s more Trumpian fun ahead. Trump faced debt ceiling limits, and they were no big deal. Today, Trump Republicans are hell-bent, not on improving life for you and me, but rather, to blackmail the entire U.S. economy and international standing by holding us all hostage for a shot at disrupting Biden’s ordinary flow of government business. Republicans used to be the party of serious business. Today, under Trump’s influence, all businesses across all America will be hammered should the debt ceiling not get raised by summer. One would think Republican Congress folk would be more attuned to American business concerns, but “burn it to the ground” gamesmanship is stronger than loyalty to constituency. One would think they’d protect the economy that supports us all, but telling women what they can and can’t do and gutting voter protections appeals more to their narrow, radical base. 

We’ve endured all this crazy stuff far too long now. Do we really want more? And speaking of God, “God only knows” what’s in store for America after a second Trump inauguration…  

Mother Russia, here we come!  

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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