Gosh, wasn't it hilarious when President Trump “joked” about beating up protesters at his rallies? Wasn't it great when he encouraged the cops to “get rough” with people? Ha-ha-ha, he was just kidding around. Besides, if it triggered all those snowflake libs, all the better.
Then, when he amped up the crowd on Jan. 6, telling them they had to “show strength” before they pillaged the U.S. Capitol with guns, Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs, and Confederate flags, I guess that was just “Trump being Trump.” It's not like he shot anyone on Fifth Avenue. And they didn't actually hang Mike Pence for following constitutional law. Heck, the body count was just five and only one of them was a cop. Back the Blue, right?
The last time anything like this happened was in 1814 and it was the British sacking our nation's capitol. Back then though, the warning cry was “The Redcoats are coming!” not “The Red Hats are here!” Make America Great Again.
Ladies and gentlemen, we've met the enemy. If they look vaguely familiar, it's because it's the Republican Party. You remember them. They used to be the flag-waving, democracy-loving, Constitution-quoting, God-bless-America, family-values crowd. Now, they're a bunch of Q-Anon, white-supremacist, intellectually incurious, self-righteous, gullible, hysterical, low-information voters. Oh, and let's not forget, insurrectionists.
So you'll excuse me if I don't give a pass to Republican enablers for jumping off the smoking wreckage of the Trump Crazy Train at the last minute. It's not bravery; it's self-preservation.
Head cheerleader Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., even got testy with an irate caller last week on Scott Hennen's “What's on Your Mind” (trust me, you don't want to know) radio program, explaining that he couldn't do anything to “stop the steal” because of the Constitution and democracy and reality and stuff. What? There are rules? Who knew?
On to the post-mortem. At best, enablers like North Dakota Republicans Cramer, Sen. John Hoeven, Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Gov. Doug Burgum were true Trump believers — otherwise known as “dupes.” At worst, they saw through the grifter's scams early on but as long as they were getting tax breaks for the rich and conservative judges, they were content to just play along. I tend to believe the latter. At any rate, they miscalculated.
They understood they were creating a monster, but they probably believed that Trump would implode or that the leash would hold. What they got wrong is a chapter that Mary Shelley might have written, only in this chapter, Dr. Trumpenstein wasn't the greatest danger, it was the villagers — the rabble, the base, with their tiki torches, Trump flags and unhinged delusions.
A common phrase uttered after the first presidential coup attempt in American history was “This isn't who we are.” Au contraire. It's exactly who Republicans have become.
Go ahead, turncoats. Quietly peel off those Trump bumper stickers in the garage. At dusk, roll up that MAGA flag on the porch. Try to forget that you ever supported a man and a party that would so willingly abandon democracy. But the rest of us won't forget. And we sure as hell won't forgive.
God bless America. But not you traitors.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.