Opinion: For the privately disgusted GOP
This is an open letter to all of you privately disgusted Republicans.
It’s prompted by the fact that in the last few days, two of your colleagues have come forward to share with us your angst.
One was actually an ex-colleague, former GOP Rep. Charlie Dent. He told CNN that you continue to support Donald Trump because pressure from the base — the almighty base — forces you to. “But there’s no question,” he added, “having spoken to many of them privately, they’re absolutely disgusted and exhausted by the president’s behavior.”
Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks seconded that emotion. “If you talk to my Republican colleagues off the record, they’re all very concerned,” he said, also on CNN.
It’s not that we haven’t heard similar sentiments before. To the contrary, they have surfaced repeatedly over the last four years. But ladies and gentlemen, your lament has reached the point — and breached the point — of sheer tiresomeness.
As the scope of Trump’s abuse of power grows ever more obvious, as his contempt for the rule of law grows ever more plain, as leaders of your party offer ever more threadbare justifications and rationalizations for that which is neither justifiable nor rational, we receive word that you folks are “privately … disgusted?”
As Rick Perry and others claim Trump as God’s “chosen one,” as a new Economist/YouGov poll finds that most Republicans rank him a better leader than Lincoln himself, as the party grows ever more indistinguishable from a cult, with Trump as he who must not be questioned, he whose wisdom is beyond mere mortal ken, we hear that off the record, you lot are “very concerned?”
One struggles for adjectives to convey how little that means, how insignificant is the comfort it offers.
Sixty years ago, Martin Luther King issued a warning: “If you fail to act now, history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
King was addressing white racial moderates, but it is remarkable — and disheartening — how well his warning fits you, who have prioritized your own political backsides above truth, above honor, above national interest. As the country lurches toward a precipice from which it will not recover, you count votes. In a time that demands every good man and woman raise their voices, you embrace the appalling silence instead.
War criminals are set free. And appalling silence.
A Russian attack unanswered. And appalling silence.
Children dying in our care. And appalling silence.
Except we are given to understand that in private, you grumble from time to time. And Lord, what are we supposed to do with that information? Are we expected to sympathize with your dilemma? Please.
We are posing for history here, ladies and gentlemen. One day we will be judged by what we said and did not say, the stands we took and did not take, in this moment of peril. And you, the party of Reagan and Eisenhower, T.R. and the apparently overrated Lincoln, are coming up well short. Where is your courage? Who broke your moral compass?
Enough with your private disgust and off-the-record concern. The times are calling. They demand you stand up like American women and American men — stand up like John McCain would long ago have done — and speak what you know to be true, what we all know to be true.
Or else, at the very least, please shut up completely. Let the rest of us mourn our country in peace.
— Leonard Pitts is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald.