On November 8, 2016, businessman Donald J. Trump won the Presidential election that was held that year, defeating former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was an election that divided the nation, both parties putting up candidates who were the least electable in their recent history. They were divided, the radical wings outright winning the nomination or coming very close to it. The argument was made after the initial shock of Trump’s victory that the White House would make the man, that the awesome responsibility of the office would temper the populist tendencies of the candidate who was elected. There was a historical basis for this, as previous people elected often had more radical a campaign platform than a record when they took office. In part this was due to a Congress and Supreme Court that checked these Presidents, or simply the responsibility of the office watering down the less palatable policies of an administration. The argument was made to give Donald Trump a chance, but the nation he became the leader of was even more divided, the political landscape murkier, and the swamp he promised to drain larger than ever before.
It has now been nearly two years since Donald Trump took the oath of office. He stated that he will “to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” In that time, he has divided our nation. His attempt to ban Muslims from entering the country from certain other nations led to unprecedented protests at American airports. His reckless foreign policy has permanently damaged our reputation abroad and is still now threatening to separate our nation’s fate from that of Europe, our closest allies. He has alienated nations in the Middle East vital to our strategy in defeating radical terrorist organizations, while at the same time refusing to punish those nations in that region who have aided and abetted those very groups. He refused to condemn neo-Nazi groups after their riots in Charlottesville, after the group wanted to keep up the statue of a man that would keep our nation divided. Trump said that there was blame on both sides for the action of a group that idolizes men who committed among the worst crimes in history. His refusal to believe his intelligence agencies—led by men who he appointed and who support him—about Russian intervention in our elections. And now, on July 16, 2018, he publicly refused to defend our intelligence community in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin while speaking at a press conference in Helsinki, Finland. He believed a former KGB agent over the brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our livelihoods and values. He said that America was responsible for the divide with Russia, the nation that has invaded, annexed, and caused civil wars in sovereign nations.
In the hours since Trump and Putin held their press conference in Helsinki, further reports have shown the unfolding reaction at home and overseas. Senator John McCain said that Trump abased himself before a tyrant, and further stated that it was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American President. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated that “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.” Senators Bob Corker, Ben Sasse, John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham, and countless other Republicans in the House and Senate have condemned these comments, on top of the criticism by members of the Democratic Party in Congress. In a nation as divided as we are today, it is sad that it takes an unleashed President who agrees and defends tyrants and not our own press to have Congress unite. Not since the days of Watergate has an incumbent President been so reckless and dangerous in their actions. And just hours after this press conference, another Russian citizen in the United States was indicted for acting as a Russian agent, adding to the twelve who just days ago were indicted.
The President is one of the most controversial in living memory, and the least popular. His approval ratings are consistently at or below 40%. The people of this country as highlighted in a previous article believe that the United States is just as or more divided than we were during the Vietnam War and its associated events. The reality is that Trump has destroyed or is on the brink of destroying our long-standing alliances in Europe. That our nation will continue to divide itself, and that the President will not just do nothing to stop it but help further along this divide. No longer is this a debate on policy or the Supreme Court or even the Constitution. Those issues are compared to this transgression meaningless, as all past leaders, no matter affiliation, had the common good and survival of the United States as their top interest. Now, as the country and the world reel in from these events in Finland, we must decide how to move forward as a nation. How the Democrats and Republicans move forward is another question, and how we can as a nation survive in an increasingly volatile world. Whether or not Trump knew of the Russian intervention before the election is unknown. What is known is that close associates like Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn knew, and are facing possible jail time for their involvement with Russia. Trump has betrayed his nation today, and no matter your party affiliation or agreement with his policies or opposition to it, it is difficult to endorse or support the President’s actions. The course we take now must be to impeach the President of the United States for betraying this country to the Russians.