In a Christmas email to a conservative friend I expressed concern about our democracy. I didn’t mention President Donald Trump but I suppose it was obvious that Trump was at the center of my angst. He responded that if I get my information from CNN and MSNBC — 80 percent of which he believes is negative — he could understand my worry about the direction of the country. His major fear for democracy is the “attempt at a veritable coup d’état that the democrats and left are trying to engage in by trying ‘illegally’ to impeach and discredit this legally elected president.”
My friend has told me numerous times that Fox News is the only channel he watches and trusts; so I knew what influenced his comments. I could have responded that except for a few commentators like Shep Smith and Chris Wallace, Fox is well known as an unabashed cheerleader and apologist for Trump and his administration. I could have called out Fox’s primetime anchors Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham who rarely utter a discouraging word about Trump but viciously blast progressives at every opportunity.
I also didn’t try to defend the mainstream media that Trump called “the enemy of the American people” or point out that Republicans are in control of the impeachment process and the legally impaneled congressional investigations of Trump and Russian election meddling. Nor did I mention that former FBI director James Comey and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are both Republicans. In fact, I didn’t respond at all at the time; it was the holiday season.
Actually, I was a bit miffed at the suggestion that I get my information from pundits. I download publications from the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget and from independent think tanks like the Tax Foundation, the Tax Policy Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation. These are my sources for facts about tax and health care legislation.
When it comes to Trump and his administration I base my opinions on what they say, what they write and what they do. Trump’s obvious lies are not fabricated by CNN; they come directly from his mouth and from his tweets. I don’t need MSNBC to tell me that Trump is ignorant of the policies that he touts when he says things like, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated?” or when he claims his tax cuts are mainly for the middleclass.
A liberal writer didn’t make up a story that Trump refused to produce his tax returns to prevent public scrutiny and created huge conflicts of interest by putting his sons in charge of Trump business interests. Nor was it a figment of a reporter’s imagination that Trump spent 117 days visiting his properties last year and 91 days likely playing golf. It may be outlandish, but it’s true.
Should the media ignore the fact that member fees were raised at Mar-a-Lago after Trump became president and that he benefits financially from these trips? Didn’t Republicans and Fox News blast President Obama for far fewer golf games and vacations?
And what about Trump’s frequent public calls for the Justice Department to investigate the Clinton foundation again or reopen probes into Hillary’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State? Aren’t those indirect orders to an agency that is supposed to be independent of presidential influence? Isn’t he setting a precedent that his successor could use to prosecute him when he is out of office?
The news media didn’t invent Russia’s interference in our election process or cause U.S. intelligence officials to verify it. They didn’t use high-tech animation to display Trump calling on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails or to show him praising Russian President Vladimir Putin during numerous public occasions. He willingly did that.
I don’t have to listen to CNN or MSNBC to know that Donald Trump is a deeply flawed man who is tarnishing our republic. The proof comes directly from what he says, what he writes and what he does. Biased commentators didn’t convince me that Trump is unfit for office or that he displays a level of common decency far below what’s expected from a U.S. president. He did.
So, I keep wondering, how many times does this president have to embarrass and weaken the United States by insulting our democratic allies and praising despots like Putin? How many more lies must he utter now that fact-checkers have counted 2,000? What crazy threat does he have to make with nuclear weapons? What level of his conflicts of interest will cross a red line? Or what terrible deed must Trump finally do before his supporters and the GOP say he’s gone too far?
This tendency to ignore how Trump is damaging our nation deeply troubles me. My conservative friends are all intelligent, decent and honest people. In short, not one of them is anything like this arrogant, insensitive man with a Mussolini-like pout and an authoritarian bent. Yet, they still support him, apparently because he’s just cognizant enough to sign a tax bill and issue conservative-pleasing executive orders.
No, my friend, Democrats and the “left” won’t decide Trump’s fate; Republicans will. And I believe the future of the GOP is in doubt if they put ideology and party before democracy and country – or at least, it should be.