Another Republican against Trump

By Sam Patten | Oct 09, 2020

The saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” goes back to the 4th Century B.C., first found in Sanskrit, but could have been said earlier still in any number of languages. This primitive form of solidarity remains the best case for reelecting Trump to a second term as president. But it’s not enough.

To his critics’ annoyance, Trump has accomplished certain things in his first — and hopefully final — term in office. I am grateful to him for ending the JCPOA, a.k.a the Iran Deal, which jeopardized U.S. and global security on the basis of a the deeply flawed assumption that the Tehran regime is redeemable.

Closer to home, his administration forged progress in criminal justice reform with the First Step Act, offering greater hope for those who may be worthy of second chances. I also see some value in his challenge of other assumptions across the board. Even chaos has its purpose.

During the financial meltdown of 2008, central bankers told us the system was being subjected to stress tests, and the fact it did not totally dissolve means it passed. Now, our political system has endured a stress test, and while we all may be a bit more grizzled and embittered, we’re still here.

The Washington Post’s adopting the motto democracy dies in darkness struck me as overwrought and dramatic, but at its essence, they have a point.

Could America survive four more years of Trump? Probably. We are generally resilient and have a decent track record of muddling through things. But would the continued damage be with the risk? No, it would not be.

This week, we learned that a domestic terrorist group allegedly planned to kidnap the governor of Michigan, overthrow that state’s government and foment a civil war. Yet, by the time this is published, that Coen brothers-esque scenario will already be in the rear-view mirror, eclipsed by some other "OMG" moment. More troubling still, a sizeable portion of Americans, including one or two friends of mine, suspect the whole thing was a false flag operation.

When it comes to the robust economy, Trump is fond of asking Americans how our 401ks are doing. Well, Mr. President, I dissolved all my retirement accounts to pay for my legal bills following an imbroglio spun around you, so I wouldn’t know. Someone must be doing well — perhaps Mike Liddell of MyPillow.com — and good for him, but I don’t think I’m unique in saying your economy has done little for me.

That legal imbroglio put me in the same boat as Trump, sort of. I was charged and convicted, while he was not. He’s still railing about it, and I want to move on. Russia-gate was not a high point in the history of American investigations — even Andrew Weissmann suggested the FBI might never recover from the reputational damage that it created. But just as it was at its origin, it is far removed from what matters to Americans.

What does matter to any nation is the spirit of the people, and that has been teased and strung out and otherwise abused beyond the point of reasonableness. The polarization that began long before Trump has now been accelerated to the point it is dangerous, and warning calls about democracy are no longer simply shrill. I used to tell political clients to avoid fuzzy concepts and focus on the concrete. But if we busy ourselves too much in collecting acorns, we never pause to consider if the tree from which they fell could be diseased.

When Trump revels in his role as the victim, he elevates victimhood. In human history, such a posture by a leader rarely led anywhere good. Those in our society with real and actual grievances may, for the lack of alternatives, identify with the president, who is utterly consumed with his own.

Attacking his supporters — many of whom went to his side only because our system and its choices is so broken — is perhaps the most-self defeating strategy any opposition has ever pursued. But in a bow to Trump, the culture of insult has taken deep roots in America today.

Donald Trump was an accidental president. Not everything he did was terrible, and his example has been instructive to us as a nation in ways we may continue to discover years from now.

In 2016, he ran not to win, but to make a point. The fact that he did win added validity to his point: our system is sometimes crooked and dysfunctional. He’s done nothing to address this central criticism, and has instead frittered on the edges and worsened the divide among us, in some cases turning neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend.

To crib a line from Susan Collins, I don’t think any reader of this column is looking to me to tell them for whom to vote for president. But if you are going to join me in voting against Trump, mind your self-righteousness and be humble about why he’s there in the first place.

And if you’re going to vote for him, mind your expectations. But do vote.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 09, 2020 13:07

Republicans are the only ones who can stop this chaos and save our country and the Republican party. How can they put up woth things like this and still look at themselves in the mirror:  https://www.facebook.com/11thhour/videos/451552959155867/

 



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