Forum: Question for Trump supporters; where lie your loyalties?

Those who would vote for a would-be dictator need to consider their bond to their nation’s ideals.

By Greg Hauth / Herald Forum

We have many proud, patriotic citizens among us who willingly express great loyalty to our democracy. And to Donald Trump. I contend that Trump’s supporters cannot be loyal to both our democracy and Trump at the same time.

Trump has certainly been great at demanding loyalty to himself. He demands obedience from those who work for him and claims that anyone who might withdraw or turn on him are “weaklings” or worse. Just look at how loyal Vice President Mike Pence was during Trump’s term. Yet on Jan. 6, 2021, when confronted with a legal, ethical and moral dilemma to support the laws and election results, or support Trump’s illegal and autocratic claims that Pence should delay the electoral count because “the election was stolen,” Pence stood with our democracy. Trump immediately turned on him and incited the Jan. 6 insurrectionists to hunt down and “hang Mike Pence.”

So, when our Founding Fathers considered a Declaration of Independence from King George over 237 years ago, we are back to the same question they faced: Do we want to live in an autocracy or a democracy?

Trump has openly claimed he wants to be a dictator, “but only on day 1.” He wants to exert complete control over the government and the people. He wants to change elections so results are only “free and fair” when he wins. He has made his case for authoritarianism if he is re-elected.

“We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections,” Trump said toward the end of his Veterans Day speech.

Do we want autocracy? Are we excited by it? We’re all aware of the terror and tragedy of the Third Reich, Josef Stalin’s reign, and now Vladimir Putin’s immoral war against Ukraine. A vote for autocracy might be exciting at first. Just look at the promises a benevolent dictator makes to reshape the country: Close the borders! Lock up all the criminals! Fix all our problems overnight! As Trump claims: he alone can fix these problems. Sounds reassuring, and way more efficient than democracy.

Then the autocrat becomes terrifying as we see his retributions start, loyalty oaths enforced, people imprisoned for any defiance, people spying on each other, concentration camps for “enemies” and propaganda to brainwash society and keep everyone in line. We will become like Russia, except an autocratic U.S. would be worse than Russia because of our size, influence and power.

Democracy gives us the chance to express ourselves through our power to vote. Sure, this is old news to us and isn’t as exciting as the prospect of a new autocratic regime. Democracy is slow, pondering and creates stalemates and comprises. But democracy also allows us to choose representatives that we want and to fire those that aren’t up to our standards. The true test of any democracy is the ability of everyone to respect the vote and the election process.

So, I ask Trump supporters: Are you expressing loyalty to the man or to our democratic ideals? Because you cannot fool yourselves. You must choose, however uncomfortable that might make you, as Pence did. Do you support democracy (boring, but it works) or do you support autocracy (Trump) that goes against everything our Founding Fathers fought for? You cannot choose both.

Stand with our Founding Fathers to reject tyranny, reject autocracy. Do what a true patriot would do: Choose democracy, and vote for anyone but Trump.

Greg Hauth lives in Everett.

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