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  • Jack Lessenberry

Who is Really to Blame for What Happened in Washington

Yes, Donald Trump is to blame for what happened in Washington yesterday. He essentially fomented that riot.

For weeks, months, years he has deeply damaged our nation. Most recently, he has done us terrible harm with his repellent lies about elections in this country, especially the one he just decisively lost. He has eroded belief in our sacred institutions.

He is clearly willing to destroy them and our lives and the Constitution and democracy just to hang on to power, and a job at which he is supremely incompetent and too lazy to try to do well.

Donald Trump is to blame for the death and destruction yesterday.

But he is not the only one to blame.

Donald Trump has no understanding of what America means, or meant for centuries, and why the rule of law is so important. Nor could he care less. He is a malignant narcissist who is likely deeply mentally ill, and who should have been removed from office long ago.

Yet an even bigger blame lies with those who enable him. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a highly educated man who knows better and truthfully despises Trump, (who he once called a “sniveling coward.”) Yet Cruz took the outrageous step of challenging dutifully certified electoral votes yesterday.

His challenge, based on a cynical lie and the hope he could successfully pander to Trump supporters in the future, did not cause the rioters to swarm the Capitol. But his rhetoric, and that of those who like him spread lies about the election for weeks, certainly did.

Vice President Mike Pence is to blame as well. The fact that he ultimately refused to try and overturn the election is no excuse. He has to have known that Trump is dangerously unfit to govern.

But Pence has never moved to invoke the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and begin taking steps to remove him from office, even temporarily, a process a vice president must begin.

Michigan Congressmen Jack Bergman, a retired Marine Corps general, and Tim Walberg, a former Bible salesman, are to blame too, for signing on to the outrageous lie that the election was stolen.

To an extent, those who voted for Donald Trump last fall — 74,222,959 people – are also to blame. His callousness, incompetence and lack of interest in anyone but himself were openly there for all to see.

So were his stupidity, ignorance, racism, repellent personality, and the dangerously reckless way he handled foreign policy and our role in the world. Not to mention the millions sickened and hundreds of thousands of dead in the pandemic. Many of those did not need to die, had our President asked us to behave responsibly.

Yet millions still voted for Donald Trump. Some, because they thought he was good for the stock market. If you are one of those, you have in a sense betrayed your country as well.

What we don’t yet know is whether the Republican Party is too corrupt to be saved. Yes, there are a few — a very few — who have spoken out strongly against Trump, but they are less common than well-off Germans who spoke out against Adolf Hitler.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the one truly decent Russian leader in a century, tried to reform the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, only to find that it was completely corrupt and evil. Today’s Republican Party may be dangerously close to the same.

This nation needs a strong and decent center-right party, but all I see left in the once-honorable GOP, the party of Nelson Rockefeller and Bill Milliken and Teddy Roosevelt, is Mitt Romney and John Kasich and a congressman or two, plus a few retired politicians who have nothing to lose by speaking out, usually timidly.

That has to change, or that party and perhaps this nation will fall. We do not yet know the extent of the damage Trump and his children and his minions have done to this nation, internally and externally, as well as to our souls. We do know that, as with Hitler, this would be a better world if he had never been born.

We have to save this country, and ourselves, and our children, and our planet. We can do that if we want to, and if a few so-called leaders take the risks and steps needed.

We are better than this; we are better than we have been. Want to see the people who enabled Donald Trump? For starters, look in the mirror. Nearly none of us has done enough to stop this.

Then make sure this never happens again, for your sake and that of your children and for the memory of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speak out against the madness and demand leaders who lead and take action. Or no one will when your nation and democracy have been destroyed, and he or someone like him comes for you.

Jack Lessenberry has written about history and covered politics in this nation and elsewhere for many years.

(Photo Credit: Jose Luis Magana, AP)

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