I am not sure exactly what got to me this morning. I have heard Trump talk about the fake press before and how reporters are “the enemy of the people.” I have heard him send up trial balloons about censoring “fake news” and how only the word of the President can be trusted. He has talked before about violence from the Left and how the Democrats will try to destroy the Christian faith if they get control of the House, and about how if this happens, it will be the end of the Republic. He does not miss an opportunity to denounce Mueller and Sessions or to deny any collusion with Russia even while denying that Russia had anything to do with our elections. He continues to blame immigrants and look for scapegoats. His supporters still scream at the top of their lungs, “Lock her up!” None of this is new.
I think what bothered me today was his anger, which has always been present but with his enthusiastic base at the Indiana rally last night seemed to go up a decibel or two. He seems to be bordering on panic. Something in the air makes it feel like the end of this chapter is nearing. The Mueller investigation is getting close to winding down. Trump’s cronies who have been convicted or copped pleas are now all talking. Something big seems to be just around the corner.
But what will that be? What will the next chapter in this sordid drama look like? The Trump presidency has captivated our nation like nothing I have seen before. I do not see how his behavior can continue for a whole lot longer without bringing down the country with him.
Will we as a nation come through this, asserting our values of equal opportunity for all, fairness and justice, the rule of law, and a level playing field? Or will be go the way of many countries in the past that have retreated to authoritarianism? How strong is our democracy? Will new leaders who are more like John McCain than Trump emerge to stand up for country over party or we will descend to more tribal warfare and instability? These unanswered questions are chilling. This could be our moment of victory like when we as a nation confronted Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon and stood firm that they had stepped over the line. Like when we passed the civil rights bills, outlawed Jim Crow and legal segregation. Or this could be our moment of doom and disgrace. It was never guaranteed that these decisive historical moments would be victories. They happened because brave leaders confronted difficult issues head on and stood up to power and fought for what was right.
That is where we are right now. Regardless how the Mueller investigation turns out, it is time for leaders in both parties to put our country first and their parties second. The values of freedom of the press, free speech, fairness, civil discourse, equal opportunity, equal protection. and the rule of law must overcome what I call the forces of darkness.
It is also time for each and everyone of us who believes in these fundamental American values to do our part—by voting, speaking out, organizing, and standing up to Trump and the horrific values he has brought with him into the White House.