Recently I had an online discussion with several Trump supporters over Trump’s accomplishments and Biden’s failures. One man gave a long list of all the bad decisions that Biden had made since he took office 10 months ago. I countered with my own list of what I felt were Biden’s accomplishments. One person wrote telling me he thought I had drunk the Democratic Kool-Aid.
I then realized that none of Trump’s supporters mentioned anything about the Jan. 6 insurrection.
When pressed, one person labelled these insurrectionists not as conservatives but as “wild fanatics” with no real connection to the Republican Party. I countered that it was clear from the video footage at the Capitol that those who protested were ardent Trump supporters with MAGA hats and flags. They represented the conservative extreme of the Republican Party and had come to Washington D.C. at the instigation and encouragement of President Trump to “stop the steal”.
I then took a different tack. I told them I didn’t want them to give me a list of “whataboutisms” showing how bad Biden was. This was a form of deflection from my question about Trump’s attempted coup. I challenged them to renounce Trump’s attempted overthrow of our representative democracy by stopping the Electoral College count. I predicted that some of Trump’s supporters would answer my challenge by silence. I told them that “their silence would speak volumes” about their belief in our Constitution and its rules and procedures for the change of government after an election.
One supporter began to criticize the words I had used in my statement. He told me that he resented that I used the religious term “repentance” to describe what I felt should be their response to the evil Trump had done. Yet nowhere did he answer my challenge to renounce Trump’s actions that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection. I would have been content for him to object to my wording, chew me out for it, and then go on to support our democratic form of government. He didn’t do that. Instead, he accused me of trying to box him in to a no-win situation.
What did this tell me? It reminded me of the adage “shoot the messenger” used by those who don’t like the message delivered to them. It’s a common human reaction.
Why is it so hard for many Trump supporters to condemn the Jan. 6 attempted coup? Do they not believe in representative democracy? Is it because they prefer a dictator who represents their views and speaks to their fears? Even Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, wanted the House investigation into the Jan. 6th insurrection to be ended.
I thought back to the investigation of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi incident. Remember that Republicans held eight different committee hearings as a run up to the 2016 election. Yet, they couldn’t come up with anything that would condemn her for what happened there. That didn’t matter though. I’ve had conservatives bring up Benghazi as proof of how bad Hilary Clinton was, even though nothing was ever found. The memory of the investigations was enough to condemn her in their eyes.
Discussion of the Jan. 6 attempted coup should be enough to unite all Americans against fascism. There should be no rationalization and excuses from anyone. The Republicans in Congress should have voted to form a bipartisan investigation of Jan. 6.
Instead, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy threatened any Republican with punishment if they dared to cross him by joining the committee. Two Republican members decided to defy him. Now one of them, Adam Kinzinger, has announced that he won’t seek re-election in 2022, citing that he got elected by not doing what people told him to do, but “to do what was right.” Kinzinger went on to state that “I admire those everywhere that put their country above their party in service to their fellow man.”
Those Republican candidates who rushed to put in their names to replace Kinzinger all emphasize “America First”. Kinzinger’s response is to say, “Now is the time to put country first.” Can you see how similar yet very different these two statements are?
For Trump supporters, you can praise the good things that President Trump did during his time in office, and you can criticize Biden for his mistakes and failures. What you must not do is throw away our representative democracy in the process.