The jig is up. Although many of us recognized Donald Trump’s racism early on, many others — 60 million voters, GOP establishment leaders and scores of leading CEOs — looked the other way. No more.
After Trump’s stunning press conference on Tuesday in which he defended Neo-Nazis and Klansmen, the time has come for everyone in the public square to speak out and take a stand. Indeed, many Republicans, including Mitt Romney, Gov. John Kasich and former presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush, have done so and in compelling language.
But others are still holding out. Namely, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. They are not just Republican leaders, but national congressional leaders who set the agenda and who would have responsibility for presiding over an impeachment when we finally get there. And so, where are they? They each issued tepid, muted criticisms of bigotry but no direct criticism of Trump.
This can’t last. They can’t hide for much longer. Soon, Congress will return to session and Ryan and McConnell will have to venture out into public. They can’t dodge this travesty much longer and must be held to account. Where do they stand — with Trump in the name of preserving their power? Or with the sane majority of Americans who are opposed to racism and white supremacy? What will it take for GOP leaders to properly denounce their party’s leader? What more can he do; what more can go wrong?
Every Trump voter must face this reckoning. You foisted this demagogue on the rest of us. Will you speak up for what’s right and fix this wrong? Or stay silent and enable his assault on decency? History will ultimately judge you and him.
It’s stunning to see the military chiefs publicly repudiate racism and discrimination and, by extension, their own commander in chief.
Administration staffers must also take a stand and start resigning in protest. You are enabling this monster if you don’t.
And what of the Jewish people in this administration — Steven Mnuchin, Jared Kushner, Michael Cohen? How do they go to work every day for a man who thinks there were good people marching in Charlottesville’s Neo-Nazi parade?
We are living in Bizarro world, where right is wrong and up is down. The one thing Trump has done right for himself is to staff his administration with toadies so devoid of conscience and self respect that they will blindly do the bidding of a man who’s in bed with people who would see them dead.
The good news for these sycophants: It’s not too late to stand up, speak out and get out. Reclaim your self respect and quit working for this racist madman. As for Republican leaders like McConnell and Ryan, it’s already too late. You have shown yourselves to be so blind to power and money that you will tolerate a Neo-Nazi sympathizer as head of your party. That party deserves to find itself in the minority after 2018.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.