AMID the growing partisan divide in President Donald Trump’s chaotic first year in office, any criticism against his action, words, policy, and character have been deemed by our Republican kababayans as a personal attack against the president by Democrats and liberals, who could not wait to bring down the Trump presidency because they could not accept that he won and Hillary Clinton lost.
The most recent news about Trump allegedly calling certain African nations “shithole” and disparaging Haiti, among others with while saying the U.S. should have instead people from Norway, with a predominantly white population, emigrate to America just put a spotlight on what people say about Trump’s racist thoughts and attitude translating to national policies.
The problems and concerns have been real, and the Republican Party — which used to embody the values that uphold the truth, rule of law, respect for all people, kindness, fairness, and conscientiousness that I see in my Republican friends — seems to be morphing into a different animal under the Trump administration.
Republican journalist Elise Jordan summed up most of the sentiments privately shared with me by some Republican friends, in an article entitled “I’m a Republican. What on Earth Is Wrong With My Party?” published by Time Magazine on January 15, 2017.
Jordan started the article with these words of exasperation: “I am a Republican in the era of Donald Trump, and I am emotionally depleted by the constant cruelty of the President of the United States.”
Elise Jordan wrote this piece to remind her party about the soul of America that the Republican Party has fought so hard for before the era of Trump:
“While Trump spoke of ‘American carnage’ in his Inaugural address, Ronald Reagan ended his second one by describing what he called the American sound: ‘hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair.’”
“These are values that all Americans used to proudly champion, no matter the political party. Other Republicans still can, if they can summon the courage to state the obvious.”
She went on to give a rundown of headlines that have been making her and other Republicans like her feel so frustrated and worried about how the President has been misrepresenting the true values of the Grand Old Party (GOP):
“My heart hurt when Trump went out of his way to attack Myeshia Johnson, the pregnant widow of a fallen soldier he sent to the battlefield. I recoiled in disgust when he slanderously (and laughably) insinuated that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was willing to prostitute herself to him for a political donation. When the President offered that among the white supremacists who killed a peaceful protester, there were ‘some very fine people,’ it felt like an alternate history, one where the Citizens’ Council ascended to power instead of ignominy. Then there’s his support for Roy Moore, even after multiple women accused Moore of preying on them when they were teenagers and he was in his thirties.”
Elise Jordan’s concern goes beyond Trump because she sees how much of the Republican spirit that made her gravitate toward the party seems to be lost among Republican members just to accommodate and work with Trump:
“The GOP’s journey from embracing compassionate conservatism to accepting Trump’s unparalleled capacity for casual cruelty cannot be dismissed as craven politics; it’s a threat to our security when the President taunts a nuclear-armed rogue dictator on social media.
There was a time not so long ago when Republican presidents — not to mention other Republican leaders — cared about America’s standing in the world, as a matter of principle and peace. The previous Republican president George W. Bush made compassion a literal domestic policy priority by funding what he called ‘armies of compassion’ through faith-based initiatives. This Republican president seems hell-bent on stripping any semblance of compassion from the national and global conversation.”
Jordan also wrote about how the Trump presidency seems to isolate the United States from other countries all over the world, losing our allies’ respect, trust and support for the U.S. leadership in international relations, providing historical context on how previous Republican presidents have valued these relationships in the past.
She writes, “Trump believes there’s no need to fill diplomatic appointments — there’s still not an Ambassador to South Korea — because, as he puts it, ‘the only one who matters is me.’ His strategy of demeaning the homes of the men and women of an entire continent and a neighboring island and country is as cruel as it is irresponsible.”
“In 1953, in response to the CIA’s pressure to overthrow the elected leader of Iran, President Dwight D. Eisenhower wondered aloud in a National Security Council meeting if perhaps we couldn’t try “to get some of the people in these downtrodden countries to like us instead of hating us?” Though Eisenhower would end up taking the CIA’s destructive advice to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, in general the former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II belabored the importance of alliances during the war and his presidency. ‘There is no strength equal to the strength of an enduring friendship,’ Eisenhower said, reflecting his belief that military might was meaningless without relationships based on mutual respect.”
“President George H.W. Bush was another World War II hero who leveraged human connection for the national interest. By practicing exhaustive personal diplomacy, Bush organized a financial and military coalition that forced Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein’s withdrawal from Kuwait. A hypothetical question: how many world partners could Donald Trump enlist to join him for a cause?”
“In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, other nations did join with us against al-Qaeda. But although we must learn from our failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, the solution isn’t to withdraw from the world—or, worse yet, actively insult and alienate it.”
Jordan finds it hard to come to terms with how supporters let Trump get away with words, behavior, policies that run against the principles her party used to uphold:
“Trump’s most ardent supporters will continue to praise him for ignoring the social mores of political correctness. While I resent the stifling of free speech in an increasingly hypersensitive world, Trump is not a brave truth-teller; he’s the figurehead of our nation whose first year in office is most notable for his destructive casual cruelty.”
“It is not hypersensitivity to be offended by blatantly racist, misogynistic and war-mongering statements from a man who refuses to exercise an ounce of self-control. Republicans used to believe that individuals were responsible for exercising self-control. Why does the Commander-in-Chief get a pass?”
Does Trump represent the true Republican values you hold dear?