Ten years ago while vacationing with the family I met a freshman Republican congressman whose family was on the same tour. Since we belonged to the same party and had a mutual friend in the U.S. House we connected. Almost immediately I liked this young guy. He was down to earth, level headed and thoughtful.
Over the years I followed his career and the positions he was taking in Congress. While we haven’t agreed on many policies, my positive opinion has never changed regarding his character, his dedication to his constituents and his love of country.
Recently I decided to express my concern about the administration of President Donald Trump in a letter to my vacation friend. This is the substance of that letter:
Over the years I have watched the GOP move further and further to the right. Fox News, dozens of right-wing radio talk-show hosts, the National Rifle Association and funding from conservative and libertarian billionaires like the Koch brothers have been pushing the Party toward a no compromise mindset that I think threatens our Republic and our democratic processes. These conservatives have fomented hatred of all those who do not agree with them.
The media, those who protest and “the Left” are demonized as dangerous or unfit to govern. The logical conclusion is that those on the left should not be allowed in government. A recent NRA video appeared to be a call for violence against progressives. The NRA represents hundreds of well-armed militia groups that are eager to comply.
The election of Donald Trump has exacerbated the dangers. I strongly believe that Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and other members of the Trump administration, along with some factions within the Party, now believe it is their mission and duty to decimate the federal administration and take complete control of the government. If they can fill the federal benches and the Supreme Court with enough like-minded jurists they just might be able to do it.
These coming months could make all the difference for the future of the United States. If the investigations of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and related activities by the Trump campaign and Trump’s associates are terminated without full disclosure and without prosecution of guilty parties I believe our nation will be severely and permanently damaged.
It is my fervent hope that you will help prevent these calamities.
This letter might seem too pessimistic for some folks and some might scoff at the suggestion that an American political party would seek to totally eliminate its opposition. They may counter by highlighting the separation of powers in the Constitution and claim that the Supreme Court would never allow that to happen. I hope they are right. But just consider what Republicans have been doing in state legislatures, in the Congress and now in Trump’s administration.
In 2010 Republicans took control of many state houses and elected GOP governors. In 2013 many of these states enacted strict voter ID laws after the conservative majority on the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Federal courts have held that several of these laws were designed to make voting more difficult for minorities and others who typically vote for Democrats. Some of these states also conducted purges of the voter rolls that resulted in the elimination of properly registered voters, particularly minorities.
In Congress Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) embarked on a policy of total obstruction of President Obama’s agenda in 2009. His efforts resulted in over 100 vacancies on federal courts at the end of Obama’s second term and a vacancy on the Supreme Court. It was as if McConnell believes that only Republicans should be allowed to appoint federal judges.
Of course, Trump and Senate Republicans quickly filled the Supreme Court vacancy with a very conservative jurist, Neil Gorsuch. Over time Trump may be able to appoint two or more additional Supreme Court justices and up to 38 percent of the federal judiciary according to one study. No doubt he will politicize the courts with judges that will support his agenda.
Recently Trump appointed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as head of a newly created Election Integrity Commission. The commission is supposedly investigating illegal voting in the 2016 election. Trump believes voter fraud cost him the popular vote even though he has no credible evidence to prove that. Regardless, Kobach has requested that all 50 states provide the commission with private information from their voter rolls, including how people voted back to 2006. Kobach is a well-known champion of voter suppression and I believe he will use this information for that purpose.
Trump’s attacks on the media are continuous, unprecedented and vicious. He even called the media the enemy of the people. This week he lauded Poland where the press is controlled by the government and he said it was an “honor” to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin who likely ordered a cyberattack on our 2016 election and who also controls the media.
Trump seems to have no appreciation for the rule of law and he talks like a would-be dictator who would eliminate freedom of the press if he could.
Yes, some may read my letter and ask why I’m so concerned for our Republic and its democratic processes. My answer is: All of the above and a lot more.