Imagine, if you will (and it may not be easy) armed “patriots” carrying weapons of war, prowling about the rubble of 9/11, threatening first responders, police, and firefighters engaged in rescue operations...because a favorite tavern was officially shut down.
Or imagine armed “patriots” carrying weapons of war prowling about Sandy Hook, threatening the grieving parents whose very lives had just been devastated by a deranged murderer...because a beach was officially closed.
Or imagine armed “patriots” carrying weapons of war blocking the roads in Louisiana to keep rescuers from entering New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina...because a football game had been officially canceled.
If you have the imagination to conjure all those possibilities, then the next one will be easy: imagine a U.S. president not speaking out against any of those acts.
No problem for Donald Trump—this past week when armed “patriots” carrying weapons of war began showing up at state houses to intimidate nurses and doctors, this president refused not only to send in troops to arrest them, but he refused even to condemn them. Instead he suggested negotiation and implied surrender.
For Trump this is a pattern of behavior that traces back fifty years, but we need only go back through five—to his begrudging rejection of David Duke, to his observation of good people on both sides in Charlottesville, to his choosing the word of the Russian president over that of his own intelligence agencies. Now we have armed "patriots" brandishing weapons as an indifferent president looks on and plans his next rally.
And who are these armed “patriots” carrying weapons of war? Most of them have jobs, most have been working and collecting salaries, most have not been and will not be noticeably affected by either a further shutdown of the country or an immediate opening. Instead they are well-funded poster carriers and flag wavers with no stake in anything. And therein lies the reason the president dare not reject them—they’re funded by the same “Americans” who contribute to and work for Trump's re-election. You'll see many of them at his next rally.
History will recount these incidents as minor hiccups in a nation's attempt to do the right thing, and yes, calling attention to this specific brand of treason emboldens and encourages the perpetrators, making matters worse. And yet, in terms of what this country stands for, it could hardly be worse—hardly look worse. On the world stage we have become spoiled children, enervated and self-indulgent, led by a president so out of touch that he suggests negotiating with thugs.
Most of us have been doing our patriotic duty while Donald Trump has tacitly abdicated his position. All that’s left for him now is to physically and permanently remove himself from the White House: in principle he left long ago.