Donald John Trump is, undoubtedly, the worst president since James Buchanan (our 15th president, whose lack of leadership launched this nation into the depths of the Civil War). His racism, misogyny and egoism define him as one of the most despicable and vile human beings on the face of the planet. But even more unsettling, his erratic and chaotic management style, combined with his complete and utter incompetence, render him as one of the greatest threats to the American democratic experiment in the modern era.
This past summer unveiled to the public the true nature of our president: a white nationalist, women-hating, insecure bully with a lack of understanding of even the most basic aspects of foreign affairs, economics and the administrative state. Trump is a dangerously toxic cocktail of evil and sheer stupidity.
It would be easy to list the reasons why Trump is evil (his support for neo-Nazis and white supremacists, endless attacks on women, constant lies and love for the maniacal dictator that is Vladimir Putin) and incompetent. But there is something that troubles me even more than Trump’s lunacy: the Republican Party’s unwillingness to reject a man who is so clearly unfit to lead the world’s greatest nation.
In the midst of nearly every self-manufactured crisis or scandal that this administration has produced, the leaders of the Republican Party have expressed a sense of disapproval. Following Trump’s disgusting display of blatant racism in the wake of the Charlottesville violence, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a statement that took issue with Trump’s words. Following Trump’s outrageous assault on “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) criticized those remarks in a press conference.
Yet these expressions of disapproval are the only measures that Republican leaders have taken in response to Trump’s evil. Senator McConnell, you cannot rebuke racism in a short statement and consider yourself clean from Trump’s filth. Speaker Ryan, you cannot express disappointment in sexism in a short statement and consider yourself free of Trump’s evil. The Republican Party must be willing to routinely stand-up and protect America from every outlandish, maniacal action Donald Trump takes. But so far, Republicans have largely limited their disapproval to 140 characters and quips in press conferences.
It is egregious to see such cowardice from Republican leaders. I understand that Donald Trump’s base represents a significant portion of the electorate –– and angering that portion may not bode well for one’s re-election chances. But leading this country requires some sense of sacrifice and bravery. The history of the United States is littered with acts of Republican bravery: from the party’s origins as the sole political faction willing to stand-up to the tyranny of slavery, to the party’s incredible leadership in ending the Cold War. Brilliant and courageous Republicans such as Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan line the books of history. It is a shame that today’s Republican leaders fall so short of the glory of old.
There are, of course, some Republicans that have taken meaningful steps to oppose Trump’s tyranny. Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) new book, alongside the strong leadership of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), have shown that there are decent and brave souls still left in the party. These leaders have consistently denounced Trump, defended their constituencies from Trump’s lunacy and provided a template for other Republicans to oppose the president. I am proud of their work, and the American people should be too. Yet these men and women are in a small minority.
I have never supported Trump. Since he first made a splash in the presidential waters in 2015, I regularly wrote in this column that Trump represents everything wrong with America. I have forever and always found his racist alt-right political philosophy, his clear lack of any moral compass and his sheer ignorance on matters of public affairs to be disgusting and repulsive. I did not vote for him in November, and I did not celebrate his inauguration in January.
Despite my opposition to Trump, I remained a Republican. I figured that if decent and morally straight leaders like John McCain, Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Mass.), Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake decided to remain Republicans, that I would follow in their lead and remain a Republican as well. Yet after watching Joe Scarborough (the former Congressman and current host of “Morning Joe”) leave the party after his dismay with Trump and the lack of Republican leadership, I began to rethink my continued party allegiance.
After much thought and serious consideration, I decided that I could no longer remain a member of a party that so willing supported a tyrant. While the actions of a few Republicans are noble, the party as a whole has descended into a perpetual rot as a result of its marriage with Trump. Because of this, I left the Republican Party earlier this month and registered as an Independent.
It is my sincere hope that my departure from the Republican Party will not be permanent. I still believe that a smaller government and a freer people are the best hope for American prosperity and success. If and when the Republican Party sobers up from its Trump intoxication, I will gladly rejoin the ranks of party. But until then, I cannot stand behind a party that so willing accepts a morally destitute, incompetent bully as its leader. For the party that removed the shackles of slavery, Donald Trump represents the greatest, the most disappointing and the most egregious of degenerations.
Michael Glanzel is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cornell Shrugged appears alternate Mondays this semester.