Guest Column

Trump and Our Democracy

The presidential election of 2024 has been called the most consequential election of our time

By Carol Santa

As Trump collects delegates to clench the Republican nomination, we need to learn about what he envisions for our country. We hear nothing about healthcare, infrastructure, education, foreign policy, climate or the economy. Instead, we hear insults and angry words of revenge. The presidential election of 2024 has been called the most consequential election of our time. So much is at stake if Trump wins. 

Ukraine will fall. Trump has stated he will not support additional money for Ukraine. This will not only embolden his buddy, Putin, to continue his bloody quest, but will also undercut our NATO allies. President Biden has strengthened NATO while Trump sought to weaken it. Multiple times Trump threatened to pull the United States out of the alliance. Speaking about our NATO members, he said, “Their conflicts are not worthy” of our support and, “Pulling back from Europe would save this country millions of dollars, annually.” Recently he ramped up his attacks on NATO and said he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to member countries not spending enough on their own defense. Withdrawing from NATO didn’t happen his first term because influential people like Mike Pence, Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State) and John Kelly (Chief of Staff) found ways to restrain his behavior, but this will not be the case in a second term.  He is already putting together a team who share his isolationistic view.

While having tense relationship with our NATO allies, he stoked warmer relationships with authoritarian leaders around the globe, including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump described Kim Jong Un as a “great leader” and later said, “We fell in love.”  Recently his words hark back to Adolf Hitler arguing that immigrants entering the U.S. illegally are “poisoning the blood of our country.”

He is enamored with authoritarianism and jokes about being a dictator for one day? Don’t be so sure about his one-day comment. If elected, he promises to stop all court cases against him, pardon the insurrectionists and change civil service laws so he can fire federal officials who he perceives as disloyal to him. He also wants to order the military to crush protests in American cities and arrest political opponents. He promises to stack the judiciary with loyalists to do his bidding. And let’s not forget that he claims as President anything he does will be immune from prosecution forever.  hen his own statements sound like a dictator, we should believe him.

In addition to his authoritarian stance, do we want a person with a deeply flawed character to be our president? The Washington Post‘s fact-checkers documented 30,573 false or misleading claims during his presidential term, an average of about 21 per day. John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff  said, “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me … he is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.” He is the first president in the history of the United States to be charged with multiple crimes. He has already been convicted of fraudulent business behavior in claims about the size and value of his property. He lied about hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago Club that led to the Justice Department’s criminal indictment charging him with 40 criminal counts. And, of course, there was the insurrection where his lies about the election led to an assault on our Capitol. 

In addition, he has been accused by at least 26 women of sexual misconduct. In the spring of 1996, he sexually assaulted E.J. Carrol, and with the court’s guilty verdict he now has to pay her millions of dollars in damages. Trump has already been indicted for hush money paid to a porn star to keep her quiet about an affair. His misogynistic comments about women such as boasting about grabbing them by their genitals without their consent is further testament about his flawed character. Is he the role model we want for our sons and daughters? Donald Trump is the antithesis of Judeo-Christian character values. 

Liz Cheney, in her book, Oath and Honor: A Memoir and Warning, includes a quotation from John Adams that is now inscribed above the fireplace in the White House state dining room that was taken from a letter he wrote to his wife Abigail after spending his first night in the White House. It reads, “May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” I agree with Liz Cheney when she says, “If Trump is on the ballot in 2024, we must do everything we can to defeat him … We will be voting on whether to preserve our republic.”    

Carol Santa lives in Kalispell.