Opinion: Insights from the Pinellas Democrats’ Perspective

Trump, Republicans and the Art of Political Irresponsibility

By Kurt Loft

America is slouching toward bedlam.

The leading GOP candidate for the highest office in the land is whipping his base into a froth, and not the kind you see on a beer. This is one of hate and revulsion, using the tools of Hitlerian propaganda for a democratic shakedown.

His pettiness, arrogance, viciousness, and dearth of empathy all counter reason. He contends to be a victim, and our system of law and order is to blame. And it’s soon coming to a polling precinct near you.

His latest contravention is in response to the Hamas assault on innocent Jews. In the view of the GOP liberator, the Iranian-backed Hamas is showing how “smart’’ it is, even if such intelligence translates to the slaughter of women and children.

This isn’t just history repeating itself − it’s behavior some people allow to happen again. Imagine the MAGA base metastasizing into a second Trump presidency. Imagine a democratic vacuum. And we all know that evil loves a vacuum.

“Trump has no true allies or ideological commitments. He is reactive, driven by personal grievance, knee-jerk contrarianism, and admiration for strength and violence,’’ notes David Graham in the Atlantic Monthly. “In this case, that means bearing an old grudge against Netanyahu, opposing whatever Joe Biden is doing, and being impressed by the ruthlessness of Hamas’s attacks.’’

What unfolded in Gaza is another example of democracy in regression, if not relentless contrasts in religious ideologies. Add to this Putin’s thirst for nation conquering, North Korea’s nuclear saber rattling, and China’s looming shadow over Taiwan, and you are serving a stew of chaos for dinner.

But Trump loves this kind of meal. With more of our enemies squeezing democracy, Republicans retreat into isolationism, which as we know had disastrous consequences following World War I. It should not be an option today, argues former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates in his essay “The Dysfunctional Superpower’’ in Foreign Affairs magazine.

“The United States now confronts graver threats to its security than it has in decades, perhaps ever,’’ Gates writes. “Never before has it faced four allied antagonists at the same time − Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran − whose collective nuclear arsenal could within a few years be nearly double the size of its own.’’

By embracing dictators, Trump and his MAGA base promote an isolated America. But we should expect more from moderate Republicans seeking damage control. It isn’t happening; Republicans in the House can’t even find a gavel to begin sessions much less sketch a plan for American security.

“They’ll complain about Trumpism and the extremists,’’ Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vermont), told MSNBC about the moderates. “They’ll tell us they’re disgusted by their extreme MAGA colleagues. And yet they don’t band together, and they don’t speak up. Their silence enables the extremists and threatens the health of our democracy.’’

If re-elected, Trump would continue his appalling dalliances with tyrants, and based on prior behavior, would likely lay a red carpet for Vlad the Impaler and the bulldozing of Ukraine. The Russian leader is hellbent on destroying an entire generation of people he despises.

“Trump is unambiguously supporting Putin, as is a growing cohort of congressional Republicans who, by opposing material aid to Ukraine, are preparing to enable Trump to keep his promise to end the war ‘in 24 hours,’ ‘’ writes conservative columnist George Will in the Washington Post. “This would consign Ukraine to eventually losing the 82 percent of its territory that Putin has not yet seized.’’

Republican presidential aspirants, Will argues, should stop tiptoeing around the crucial fact that Trump is a threat to national security, and responsible members of the party should end the carousel of “moronic, clownish politics.’’

“Never has there been such a disjunction,’’ he notes, “between the seriousness of the nation’s problems and the irresponsibility of its political class.’’

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