It’s time to give the man who loves nicknames one of his own — “Comrade” Donald Trump.
His deference to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is beginning to brand the Republican Party as un-American, even anti-American Party. Although many Republican members of Congress just joined the chorus criticizing Trump for his blind acceptance of Putin’s denial of Russian hacking in our election, they do not do anything about it.
And many members of Congress along with some prominent Republicans and of course the right-wing echo chamber led by Fox actually defend an American president’s kowtowing to Putin and Russia. Republican congressional leaders wear those flag pins and profess patriotism while looking away as Trump embraces an enemy to the United States and democracy.
Ironically, Republicans during the Cold War effectively exploited anti-Communism to label Democrats as un-American. In the 1930s, “un-American” was used as a cudgel against President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, and Republicans have opposed every popular government program giving ordinary Americans economic security, such as Social Security and Medicare, as un-American.
Comrade Trump attacks U.S. intelligence agencies and our allies. Then sings the praises of Putin, a dictator who jails opponents, breaks international law at will, suppresses freedom of speech and runs a kleptocracy. During the 2016 campaign, Trump called upon Russian hackers to do opposition research on his presidential rival.
He dismisses the fact that Russia interfered massively in the 2016 election both to sow discord and help him. But the joint report of the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency said that “the Kremlin sought to advance its long-standing desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order, the promotion of which Putin … views as a threat to Russia and Putin’s regime.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked freedom of the press, a pillar of American democracy. In labeling all criticism of him, all exposures of his thousands of lies and misrepresentations, all debunking of his wild conspiracy theories as “fake news,” he destroys the belief in truth. Historically that has led to a totalitarian government being the source of truth.
Thomas Jefferson famously said that if he must choose between a government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, he would pick newspapers. Jefferson would lament the decline of our print media in the age of the internet, but fortunately there are still major newspapers and electronic media that do their best to uncover the truth and also fact-check Trump’s torrent of lies and misinformation.
The Republican majorities in Congress act as un-American with their obsession to diminish opportunity for the great majority of Americans and to worsen drastic inequality of income and wealth in the United States. To call the Republican tax giveaway to their big donors and special interests (and themselves and Trump’s family) “reform” is like calling the bubonic plague a cure for cancer.
The mendacious attacks on Special Counselor Robert Mueller investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia — already well-established, it seems — is dangerously anti-American. Yahoo congressmen, “Lyin’” Limbaugh and a chorus of Fox-paid propagandists are constantly trying to undermine Mueller.
As Jack Nicholson screamed in the film “A Few Good Men,” they are screwing around with the wrong marine. Capt. Mueller served in Vietnam (1968-69) leading a rifle company earning the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a chest full of ribbons and other medals. He has practiced law in prestigious private firms while in and out of public service. In a career as a prosecuting attorney in different regions he went after criminals ranging from street-level murderers to international money launderers. When he was appointed many Republicans effusively praised his integrity.
The false partisan attacks on Mueller seek to undermine the rule of law and the principle that here no one is above the law. The inaction of Republicans regarding Comrade Donald’s denial of Russian attacks on our nation is anti-democratic and un-American.
Ron Formisano of Lexington is the author of “American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class” (Illinois University Press, 2017).