Anyone who watched yesterday’s disaster of a press conference between Trump and Putin must have thought they were watching a spy movie. There was the president of the United States being asked a point-blank question about whether he believed his own intelligence services regarding their determination that Russia attacked our democracy. With the president of Russia standing beside him, all he had to do was say yes. He didn’t have to elaborate. He didn’t have to go into detail. A simple yes answer would have gone a long way towards at least assuaging the concern many of us have that this president is severely compromised as it pertains to Mr. Putin. But he couldn’t do it. A convoluted answer, blaming both countries and again stating that Mr. Putin strongly denies such involvement is what we witnessed.
Once again, we seem to be living in an alternate universe. Up means down. Down means up. Yes means no. Nothing that comes from the mouth of this president can be trusted. The lying is so rampant and so widespread it’s almost becoming normalized. But yesterday was not about lying. Yesterday was about how the sitting president of the United States showed the world that he is either a witting or unwitting asset of the president of Russia. Treason, a word not to be used lightly in any circumstance, was used countless times yesterday in describing the president’s performance. And rightly so. The condemnation was quick and bi-partisan. Yes, even Fox News joined in the criticism of their favorite president, something done about as often as a lunar eclipse. The usual Republican critics of the president chimed in: John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Bob Corker all came down hard on the president and they should be commended for doing just that. There were others as well. But those words of discontent, while certainly welcome, are not enough.
It’s now been over 24 hours since the disaster in Helsinki. We’ve already seen Trump do a slight walk back of his comments. Clearly his handlers must have begged him to do so. Even when he does walk anything back, which is rare in any circumstance, it looks staged and certainly not authentic. The real issue now however isn’t whether the president can fix this for his own self-preservation. No, the real issue is what will the Republican Party do in response. Words from politicians, especially those who aren’t running for reelection or those(McCain) who may not have much longer to live, are not enough. We need concrete action. We cannot have a president of the United States compromised by a murderous dictator. Our democracy has never seemed more fragile than it does now.
Frankly though, I’m not convinced anything will be done. No impeachment proceedings. No mass resignations. No 25th Amendment. The Republican Party and Trump are joined at the hip. They wanted their tax cuts and they got them. Now they want their Supreme Court Justice and they will get that as well. The only thing left to protect us from the total destruction of this fragile democracy will be an overwhelming response in November. And that means voting for Democrats, pure and simple. A total takeover of the House and Senate is the best case scenario but if it’s only the House, so be it. As long as one side of Congress belongs to the Democrats, this president can and will be held in check.
We need Independents. We need undecided voters. We need Democrats who usually don’t vote in mid-term elections. We need massive get out the vote registration drives. And, we need to take to the streets if necessary, non-violently of course. Our institutions are at risk. Our norms and the rule of law are under attack. The Republicans will try their damnedest to stay in power even if it means siding with Trump. That’s how far they have fallen. Trusting them to do the right thing for the country is a non-starter. Democrats are not perfect. But right now they stand as the last best chance to keep the current occupant of the White House from inflicting further damage to our republic. After his treasonous performance yesterday, the red light is flashing and it’s flashing faster by the day.