Four years ago, during the GOP convention, I quit thinking that a Donald Trump victory was unlikely. I also did something that tore at my gut — I put up a Facebook post saying that he was a menace to democracy and had to be defeated.
I was still a journalist at the time, and posting something like that ate at every journalistic belief that I’d ever had. But Trump was behaving in a way I’d seen before — among dictators and tyrants. I genuinely feared for what would happen to our institutions if he was elected — something I’d never felt about any other presidential nominee — and then of course he won.
But I still held out a little hope. I accepted that this presidency would be an experiment in crazy, assumed that decent people in other branches of government would help curb his worst impulses and keep the wheels of government turning, and waited for Inauguration Day. And then he gave a deeply mean-spirited and bleak inaugural address at precisely the time the nation needed words of reconciliation and optimism. After that, his new press secretary came out and told obvious, comical lies about the perfectly decent crowd on the National Mall for his inauguration. And then I knew.
We all know where things went from there. I doubt the fresh New York Times autopsy of Trump’s tax records will make much difference…by now, if you’re still OK with the guy, you’re OK with the mass death and criminality and overt racism and sexual abuse and shocking incompetence and bottomless cruelty he has brought with him. Tax avoidance, even overt fraud, drags behind that list a ways.
Once again, we are faced with a choice. Trump is already moving to corrupt or delegitimize the election. If he loses and then goes on the attack to poison the results, we all will have to choose.
Donald Trump has moved beyond being just a menace to democracy. If he is re-elected or successfully steals the election, he is the end of democracy. He must be defeated.