Na­tion needs to de­feat Trump and Trump­ism

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - EJ Dionne Colum­nist E.J. Dionne is syn­di­cated by the Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group. His email ad­dress is ej­dionne@ wash­post.com.

E.J. Dionne says a loss to­day by the GOP can­di­date doesn't mean the na­tion's wounds will sud­denly heal.

Al­though Don­ald Trump’s de­feat is a pre­req­ui­site to na­tional re­cov­ery, the pro­found dam­age he has done to our na­tion will not be wiped away if he loses.

And even if she wins, Hil­lary Clin­ton will still be feel­ing the ef­fects of the mul­ti­year cam­paign waged by Repub­li­cans in Congress to de­stroy her. The ev­i­dence sug­gests that her GOP foes will try to end her pres­i­dency pre­ma­turely by col­lud­ing with an im­pla­ca­bly hos­tile con­ser­va­tive me­dia and, it now seems, right-wing agents in­side the FBI.

So while I cel­e­brate the con­clu­sion of the most abysmal cam­paign of my life­time, I fear that this will not end the divi­sion, ag­gres­sion and ran­cid prej­u­dice Trump has nur­tured.

A Trump vic­tory would un­leash the fu­ries. But even a Trump loss will not ad­vance the cause of so­cial peace and mu­tual tol­er­ance un­less the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans who still be­lieve in mak­ing our ex­per­i­ment in self­gov­ern­ment work in­sist on the need for Congress to gov­ern, not ob­struct. Abra­ham Lin­coln had lit­tle use for po­lit­i­cal grudges: “I am in fa­vor of short statutes of lim­i­ta­tions in pol­i­tics.” His suc­ces­sors in the Repub­li­can Party would no doubt de­clare him a sell-out for har­bor­ing such sen­ti­ments.

Af­ter all we have learned about Trump’s self­ish­ness, in­dis­ci­pline, men­dac­ity, greed, misog­yny, vin­dic­tive­ness and in­tel­lec­tual lazi­ness, it should not be nec­es­sary to con­tinue to make a case against him. The man who opened his cam­paign by declar­ing that many im­mi­grants to our coun­try from Mex­ico are “rapists” has le­git­imized far-right pol­i­tics and the open ex­pres­sion of big­otry. White na­tion­al­ism has flour­ished in the gar­den of Trump­ism.

Vot­ers know about his treat­ment of women, his short­chang­ing those who worked for him, his warm state­ments about au­thor­i­tar­ian lead­ers, his readi­ness to be as­sisted by Vladimir Putin’s min­ions, his den­i­gra­tion of a Gold Star fam­ily and a heroic POW, and his open prom­ises to use the in­stru­ments of govern­ment to pun­ish his en­e­mies. Long ago, all this should have re­duced his share of the vote to sin­gle dig­its.

The fact that Trump, on the con­trary, still has a chance of vic­tory speaks to a pro­found dis­tem­per in the coun­try. Our deep di­vides along lines of party, race, class, gen­der and re­gion guar­an­tee even a man as deeply flawed as Trump a firm foun­da­tion of sup­port. And many of our fel­low cit­i­zens, shaken by eco­nomic and so­cial changes, are hurt­ing so much that they have em­braced the op­por­tu­nity to use Trump as a way of ex­press­ing their rage.

Trump’s rise chal­lenges both sides of pol­i­tics. The mas­sive sup­port for Trump among white work­ing-class vot­ers sug­gests that they do not find the eco­nomic prom­ises of pro­gres­sive politi­cians suf­fi­ciently per­sua­sive or be­liev­able to en­tice them away from the riski­est vote they will ever cast in their lives. Lib­er­als have much work to do.

But the true dis­grace is the timid­ity and op­por­tunism of Repub­li­can lead­ers. By sup­port­ing Trump, le­gions of Repub­li­can of­fice­hold­ers, in­clud­ing Paul Ryan and Mitch McCon­nell, have sig­naled that this pre­pos­ter­ous can­di­date’s en­dorse­ment of their ide­o­log­i­cal agenda of tax cuts and dereg­u­la­tion mat­ters far more to them than his au­thor­i­tar­ian ten­den­cies or his in­tol­er­ance. His­tory has not been kind to probusi­ness con­ser­va­tives who in the past tried to use far-right dem­a­gogues to crush en­e­mies to their left.

And the end of the cam­paign has found Trump in close al­liance with Clin­ton’s Repub­li­can tor­men­tors in Congress. Ja­son Chaf­fetz, Dar­rell Issa, Trey Gowdy and their al­lies have spent years hurl­ing charges and driv­ing up Clin­ton’s un­pop­u­lar­ity. They, with an as­sist from the FBI, gave Trump his talk­ing points in the fi­nal days.

One does not have to over­look her mis­takes or her fail­ings to in­sist that noth­ing Clin­ton has done jus­ti­fies the ha­tred that has come her way. She is one of the most pre­pared and dis­ci­plined Amer­i­cans ever to seek the pres­i­dency. When it comes to avarice and in­dif­fer­ence to the truth, she is not in the same league as Trump. She has de­voted her life to pub­lic ser­vice, and her record as a sen­a­tor and sec­re­tary of state won her high fa­vor­able rat­ings — which Congress’ tax­payer­fi­nanced in­ves­ti­ga­tion ma­chine sys­tem­at­i­cally set about to bring down.

If Clin­ton does pre­vail, the coun­try will need to back up its re­jec­tion of Trump with a re­buke to those who would use Trumpian tac­tics to deny her le­git­i­macy and stymie the govern­ment’s abil­ity to func­tion. Unend­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions that man­u­fac­ture phony facts to fit pre­con­ceived con­clu­sions is not Congress’ mis­sion. The vile spirit of this cam­paign can­not be al­lowed to con­tam­i­nate the next four years.

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