Sirens. Flashing lights. Alarm bells. The warning signals about the ethically compromised presidency of Donald Trump are growing louder and flashier as each day goes by. Are we going to heed the alarm? Or are we going to let Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns and fully divest from his domestic and foreign business interests—as well as address unanswered questions about his and his administration’s ties to Russian interests—get lost in the rapid-fire background noise of the chaos and incompetence of this first month of the new administration?
The fact is that there are too many glaring signs of potentially dangerous ethical violations involving Trump, his cabinet, his aides, and his family that cannot be ignored nor excused with spin, lies, or Kellyanne Conway’s ridiculous claims of alternative facts.
Let’s be clear. When the voters who put Trump in the White House wake up one day to understand the havoc wreaked on our democracy, our economy, and our international standing by the Trump administration and appeasing Republicans in Congress, don’t let any of them get away with claiming that the warning signs weren’t there from day one.
What’s fascinating and, frankly, comforting right now is that these unmistakable alarms are being sounded by individuals from both sides of our deeply divided political spectrum. Just think about what it means that George Will—conservative aristocrat and spokesperson for the good-old Republican Party—was handed a pink slip from Fox News for his refusal to tow the Trump line.
What surprising bedfellows are finding common cause in their resistance to Trump. As neo-conservative commentator David Frum warns at the beginning of a chilling video called “Can It Happen Here?: “This moment of danger can be your finest hour as a citizen and an American”—but only if we heed his urgent call and stand up to the challenge and resist.
There’s Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, liberal Democrat of Rhode Island, in a video interview with Salon, pulling back the curtain on the silence of Republicans who have conveniently forgotten what truth and patriotism mean. (Who can ever forget the moment in the halls of Congress when Republican Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted out during Obama’s speech, “You lie!” Where’s good old Joe now when we need him?) Whitehouse tells us that Republicans have “a lot of anxiety” and “fewer than half [of Republicans] think this guy makes it through his presidency.”
Here’s Whitehouse again on the troubling issue of Trump’s conflicts of interest and the questions about whether Trump, when making tough policy decisions, will be serving the American people or the interests of his business empire:
If his business empire depends on funding from various organizations outside the country then those are all manipulatable [sic]. And if you’re talking about a man’s reputation or you’re talking about the collapse of his business empire, you’re pulling some pretty tough strings. So the potential problems are real and significant.
Those of us gathering at the rallies, attending town halls, and calling our members of Congress have been heeding the warnings from people like Frum and Whitehouse and others since day one of Trump’s presidency.
For the sake of our democracy, the questions now are whether Republicans will continue to keep their heads down, hoping against hope that the ugly stain of Trump and Bannon won’t stick to them. And will those same compliant Republicans wait until 2018 to push the panic button? I hope the answer is a loud and definitive “no” because we’ve still got to survive 617 days until the 2018 midterm elections. By then, who knows what irreparable damage Trump and his gang may have inflicted on America and the rest of the world.