Too Little and Way Too Late

“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” Edmund Burke (1729-1797).

I first heard this quote while watching a performance of the musical 1776.  The representative from Georgia, Dr. Lyman Hall, was sent to the Continental Congress with the instruction not to vote for independence.  After listening to John Adams passionate cry of “Is Anybody There?” he quotes the line from Burke and changes his vote to aye.  That quote has been much on my mind over the past 48 hours since the revelations of Donal Trump’s sexual predation.  As a result over the ensuing two days large numbers of Republican senators, representatives, former office holders, etc. have begun running for the exits.

Really?  Now?  This is the thing that made you abandon a man so clearly unqualified for the office he seeks?  What about his mainstreaming the racist “Birther” conspiracy?  You all winked at that.  What about his false claim that “thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11”?  What about his mocking of a reporter with disabilities?  The unconstitutional statement that he would use a religious test to ban people from this country?  The accusation that undocumented Mexican immigrants were rapist and murders?  The degrading of respect for the judiciary with claims that a judge of Mexican/American heritage could not fairly judge him?  The demeaning of a veteran and war hero?  The attacks on the grieving parents of a fallen soldier?  The incitements to violence at his rallies?

This is but a small sample of the grotesque statements and stances taken by the Republican candidate for president.  So forgive me Republican leaders if I’m unimpressed with your road to Damascus moment and your sudden conversion.   Frankly your cries of shocked outrage carry as much weight as Captain Renault’s in Casablanca — “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

Donald Trump never hid what he was.  You all knew.  You’ve known for five years when he began the racist Birther movement but you stayed silent.  Sadly the Republican party began its dance on the edge of the abyss long before the rise of Donald Trump.  It began with Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”, with Ronald Reagan giving a speech about states rights in Philadelphia Mississippi the site of the brutal murder of three civil rights workers in 1964, with Willie Horton; please listen to the statement by Lee Atwater on how to use racism to win elections and be warned there is offensive language in this audio recording.  Lee Atwater Southern Strategy.

Everyone is shocked with Donald Trump’s calm discussion of using his status, wealth and power to grope and fondle women without their consent (and yes, that is sexual assault.  I say this as a women who has endured exactly what he described doing — and I don’t mean the kissing.)  Yet this is a party that has been unrelenting in its efforts to control women’s bodies and choices.  All of these men un-endorsing Mr. Trump talk about how they have daughters.  Well you could start to protect and honor your daughters by not treating women like children or chattel.

So how does this all relate back to Mr. Burke?  If establishment Republicans had heeded the advice of the man often credited with being the founder of modern conservatism they would have stopped Mr. Trump at the Republican convention.  Yes, millions of people voted for him, but that was a terrible choice and these elected figures in the Republican party knew that.  But instead of using their judgment they acquiesced to the opinion of angry, low information voters who are unwilling to accept that this is becoming a minority-majority country.  The brave thing would have been to set aside Mr. Trump and select a normal candidate.  I probably wouldn’t have agreed with the policy positions of a John Kasich or Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, but I wouldn’t have been embarrassed to be an American in the eyes of the world.  Yes it would have angered those primary voters and the Republicans probably would have lost the election, but they would have maintained their dignity and honor while they lost.  Now it appears they are going to lose anyway, and they are left without even a shred of dignity and decency.  They bear the stain of Donald Trump — his racism, his misogyny, his authoritarian attitudes.

Did I say that Republicans were running for the exits?  That’s too kind.  This is rats abandoning a sinking ship; a ship they should never have boarded in the first place.  I hope they can tread water for a long time.

3 Responses to Too Little and Way Too Late

  • I found the moment in the musical, 1776, in which Dr. Hall invoked the Edmund Burke quote to be deeply moving. For me, it is the definition of courage by a public servant.

    To me, the Republican presidential candidate’s reprehensible behavior is not the scandal. The scandal is that so many of my fellow citizens have voted for him.

    Whatever happens in November, the social climate that allowed this child to be nominated for the presidency is reason to fear for the future of this country.

    • Melinda Snodgrass says:

      I understand and I completely agree, Michael. I thought I knew the American heart and spirit. Clearly I was mistaken if some 40% of the country could support this disaster of a candidate. I wouldn’t leave the country if by some horrible confluence of events Trump won. But my horror over the knowledge that there are people who could support this level of racism and bigotry might make me long for a different country and a different culture.

  • Melinda Snodgrass says:

    This is a really fascinating article and well worth reading.

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