I have watched the events of the last few days with increasing discouragement. First, I saw our president attack democracy in the form of his self-serving call to the secretary of the state of Georgia, a baseless attempt to subvert the integrity of the election in that state. Bullying an elected official to change the outcome of an election is illegal and ethically it is just wrong. There’s no defense for going about things in this manner.
Then I watched his followers, who were either unaware of his prior actions (or did not care) assemble in support of him on the mall. He whipped them up as he has been doing for months, knowing that a popular election was beyond his reach, and extorted them to attack the people’s house on Capitol Hill. From behind ballistic-rated glass, paid for by taxpayers, President Donald Trump’s enablers and then Trump himself incited insurrection and committed sedition.
Rudy Giuliani urged “trial by combat.” Donald Trump Jr. said, “We are coming for you.” Then the president of the United States himself, after delivering over an hour-long speech, said this: “We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore … We’re going to the Capitol … to give them the kind of pride and boldness … to take our country back.”
After all the dog whistles had been blown, and while pointing at the Capitol, Trump told the attendees, “So, let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.” Instead of walking with them, Trump retreated to the safety of the taxpayer-funded White House and Secret Service protection. His mob descended upon our nation’s Capitol to stop a constitutionally required process.
In the shocking aftermath, too many in the Republican Party consumed, retweeted, and propagated more misinformation and falsehoods to avoid the public reckoning of cold, hard facts. In a sad and bizarre twist of reasoning, they invoked the actions of others last summer as an excuse, a license, a reason, a justification for these actions. It is crystal clear to me that the party is in crisis and needs an intervention. Unfortunately, it is also clear to me that the party does not want a lifeline so they could save themselves.
I waited for real leaders to stand up and decry the traitors for what they are, and while some did, the majority hedged and waited to see what would be in their best political interests before acting. What will get me the most votes in the next election and how can I preserve myself?
All of this leads me to the obvious. I can no longer affiliate with a party that, in the absence of a full and immediate demand for resignation, fails to accept honest responsibility for its own culpability in an attack on democracy, the capital of the country and an election of the people, by the people and for the people.
My core values have not changed and I still believe in protecting and guarding the people’s interests. I still believe that limited government is better and closer to the people. I still believe most people desire to keep their hard-earned wealth. I still believe in life for the innocent.
I have supported the party and its candidates, including Trump, with a dream of reclaiming the lost territory of the Reagan years and the hope that it would move back to being a productive participant in a national discussion of mutually productive interests. I accept my guilt for being so naïve as to believe in such a selfless fairyland in a world peppered with so many self-serving opportunists. I am disappointed in myself, the president and a party that appears to me to be more about its own preservation than standing up for what is right. I have assisted in the enabling of this and I recognize that I have been wrong. This is a matter of conscience for me.
Once upon a time the Republican Party was the party that tried to bring better ideas to the table. I will continue to hope for candidates that will present themselves to the people with better ideas, the ability to gain their confidence and even more, the ability to execute those plans. Until the party can do that, they do not deserve my allegiance or yours. No party does.
I believe that people should free themselves from such blind allegiance. Seek facts and the truth that they reveal rather than selecting random information from dubious sources as support for preconceived notions. Regain the capacity for critical thought and select elected officials by their ability to serve you, not themselves. That is the job of the elected servant. Never let any of us forget it.
In the spirit of service,
Fauquier County Supervisor, Scott District