This week, the president kicked off his 2020 re-election bid in Orlando, Florida, telling his cheering arena of supporters, “Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy our country as we know it.”
When did we begin to believe that our political opponents are not fellow Americans, but enemies?
Two and a half years into the Trump presidency, his message is clear: any person or organization who does not wrap a cocoon of unquestioning support and loyalty around him—liberals, newspapers, TV news, the FBI, NATO, etc.—is the enemy.
I often hear people say that this is not who we are. I am here to argue that this is exactly who we are.
Let’s start with immigration. A recent investigation by the New York Times revealed that the youngest child separated from his parents at the border was four months old. “[I]t would be months before his parents saw him again. Before then, his father would be sent for psychiatric evaluation in a Texas immigration detention center because he couldn’t stop crying; his mother would be hospitalized with hypertension from stress….Now more than a year and a half old, the baby still can’t walk on his own, and has not spoken.”
When I see Congressman Andy Barr, with his adorable little girls by his side, I want to ask how he, as a father, deigns to support an administration that would do such damage to a baby, to a family already in crisis?
We have become the friends, the allies, of despots. Case in point: a United Nations investigation has concluded that the brutal murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi was both deliberate and premeditated by high level officials in the Saudi regime. Mr. Khashoggi was injected with a sedative, a plastic bag was placed over his head to suffocate him to death, and then his body was dismembered with a bone-saw and disposed of.
And our president chose to look the other way, with Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling reporters, “Saudi Arabia is an important ally against the Iranians, so it is a difficult problem to figure out exactly the most appropriate response.”
We have a president who continually besmirches the office he holds. On June 6, minutes before he was to take the stage to commemorate 75 years since Allied forces stormed Omaha beach, President Trump sat for an interview with FOX’s Laura Ingraham, in which he said about Speaker Pelosi and Robert Mueller, “She’s incapable of doing deals, she’s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person, the Mueller report came out, it was a disaster for them. They thought their good friend Bobby Mueller was going to give them a great report.”
How is it possible that, with the graves of thousands who lost their lives as his TV backdrop, foremost on our president’s mind were his political enemies back home, including the person second in line to the presidency and the denigration of a Vietnam veteran awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service to this country.
Eight days later, Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted, “Happy Birthday to our President...A great American and a great friend of Kentucky!” When in our history, I would like to ask our governor, has “a great American” president—who did not serve in Vietnam, citing bone spurs that have never been proven to exist—been so arrogant, so tone-deaf, so disrespectful?
At his Orlando campaign rally, the president happily spurred on chants of, “Lock her up!” about an opponent he no longer has. But when asked if she was happy with him, one rally-goer said, “He says all of the things we’ve been wanting to say, doing the things we saw needed to be done, and he’s kept his promises. And if Congress could get their act together, he could do a lot more.”
When asked what might have made him happier, one man replied, “Immigration stopped. Immigrants out. Build a wall. Other than that, I’m satisfied.”
Are you satisfied? Do Trump supporters believe, as the the president said at his rally, that Democrats, fellow Americans, want to destroy this country? Is this what Rep. Barr, Sen. McConnell, and Gov. Bevin believe? If not, where is their leadership? Where are their statements to the contrary? Where is their courage?
Because if this is who we are, we are lost.
Teri Carter is a writer in Lawrenceburg.