Wreckless and irresponsible actions have been taken by this administration, and I do not understand the silence of the GOP leadership. Are they not American too? Is this not their country too? Do they not have family, friends, relatives, whose lives are now in the crosshairs of a president who, on any human level, is visibly psychologically troubled? Do tax cuts and the gutting of the social safety net in the pursuit of some Randian dystopia mean more to them than the collective future of this country and perhaps humanity? Or has power so corrupted their spirit that they are willing to risk the very survival of the planet and species (and no, if you have remotely been paying attention to this man you will understand that this is not hyperbole)?
What will it take to make them understand that when you go into someone’s house and make a mess, that you have the obligation to clean it? This is certainly true, by way of analogy, in virtually all of the seven countries on which the ban was placed this weekend, particularly Iraq and Syria, where, but for the illegal invasion of Bush, we would not now face violent instability and madmen who want a Caliphate, but it is equally true for numerous countries in the global south. We have created these crises, and have obligations to help those in most need as a direct result of our actions. Prohibit immigration from Iraq? I think not – it is uniquely unjust.
If we survive this we must remember who stood shoulder to shoulder with a racist, a hate-monger, a bigot, a liar, a self-absorbed sociopath with no regard for truth, for justice, for decency, for any of the values that underpin the deep structures of our democracy. And theirs, as a historian I assure you, will be a legacy of shame; there will be no damnatio memoriae, but we will remember their names, their cravenness, their bowing before this uniquely destructive force that has, with their subvention, injected itself into our politics.
We, as Americans, need to be ready to pour campaign contributions into anyone who will oppose a Republican seat – if the country survives until another round of elections. But at this late date, that really matters little. Unless Republicans and the leadership of their party make clear to their president that it is time to take his band of white supremacists back to the shadows from which they came, and impeach him or force his resignation. Of course, their party has had a mighty hand in his creation haven’t they? Ever since Nixon’s Southern Strategy, ever since Reagan’s starting his campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi, ever since the first Bush seized power with the help of Willie Horton.
What will it take for their party to return to the roots of its commitment to racial justice, for which our 16th president, and subsequently the great Martin Luther King, gave their lives? What will it take to return to its commitment to national security, and the nexus of strategic economic and military alliances that have made us a strong and stable democracy? I find it unfathomable that they have not opposed this existential threat of Trump-Bannonism.
Of course, at base, I know why: cupido dominandi cunctis affectatibus flagrantior est, says Tacitus. “Lust for power is the more inflaming than all other desires”. But like any flame, it can burn.