Commentary: Where do we go from here?

By Hugh Bowden

It is simply astounding to me that, according to the most recent poll I’ve seen, 47 percent of the people in this country that I love give Donald Trump an affirmative approval rating for his performance as president of the United States. So I am going to say what millions of other Americans may be unwilling to say publicly. What has become of principles and ethics in the nation’s highest office? What has happened to our system of laws? What has happened to the belief that America once stood nearly alone as a nation where justice was paramount and where people of all races, backgrounds and creeds were viewed as equal under the Constitution? It seems to me that, for the 47 percent of the people who are ardent Trump supporters, as long as the economy is coasting along at an acceptable level (ignoring the fact that the economy did better in the last three years of the Obama administration than in the first three years of the Trump administration), they couldn’t care less what else this would-be king will do to maintain his stay in office. I believe they are ignorant, not intellectually but because they choose to be. They turn a blind eye to anything and everything that does not heap adoration on the savior to whom they’ve pledged their allegiance.

Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” when he was elected. It’s turned out that Donald Trump is the “swamp.” His administration has been rife with corruption since the day he took office. He has now embarked on a campaign of pardoning or commuting the sentences of some of the major occupants of that swamp, claiming that the guilty findings that put them in prison — in some cases, thanks to their own admissions of guilt — were somehow compromised because Trump doesn’t like the individuals who prosecuted their cases.

Since the entire Republican Senate majority, minus the courageous vote of Mitt Romney, gave him the gift of acquittal on two impeachment charges, Trump has embarked on a campaign of vengeance against everyone he can think of who may have testified to the truth of the allegations made against him. With the daily support and complicity of the Fox television network (which enjoys free access to the broadcast frequencies that rightfully belong to the public), Trump feeds lie after lie to his faithful base and they buy every one — hook, line and sinker.

On more than one occasion, Donald Trump has asserted that, as president, he can do anything he wants to do. That is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the U.S. Constitution. But thanks in part to Trump sycophants such as Bill Barr, our less-than-esteemed attorney general, and a weak and cowardly core of Republican U.S. senators who acquitted him in the recent impeachment proceedings, that is proving to be the case. Because they are enablers who refuse to honor their oaths of office and their constitutional obligations.

We can talk about myriad issues on which Trump stands on the wrong side. He promotes measures that increase, not diminish, the income inequality between the top tier of wealthy Americans and the rest of us. He talks about protecting health insurance for those with pre-existing conditions while he does all he can in the courts to take that away. He pretends to care about the environment that provides life for all of us even as he orders or promotes measure after measure that further contributes to global warming and environmental catastrophe. He talks about “making America great again” even as he destroys our nation’s standing in the global community through his attacks on our allies and his support for some of the world’s most terrifying dictators and autocrats. He thumbs his nose at the Constitution as he uses the power of his office to enrich himself and his family.

But the ultimate responsibility continues to fall on that 47 percent of Americans who seem to be more than willing to tolerate the kind of behavior exhibited by Trump that would have them screaming with outrage were it to be demonstrated by their own children. They should take a good hard look at themselves and consider the future of the country they profess to love before they once again step into the voting booth and decide who they want for president for the next four years.

I believe Trump supporters have become a disgrace to America — and to their children and their future — because they refuse to think for themselves. They may love an imperial president today, but what about tomorrow … or next year … or four years from now? The longer this goes on, the greater and greater will be the price we all will pay.

Hugh Bowden is a retired journalist, a former Republican legislator and a lifelong political observer. He lives in Ellsworth.

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