TRUMP AND HIS BAND OF CORRUPT ENABLERS ARE THE COMMON ENEMY*
Traveling North, Watercolor, 9.5" x 13.5", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
As a progressive my concern is not that citizens or their political parties join issue with me, my philosophical or political leanings or the party with which I align. My concern, instead, is that a meaningful structure to debate those philosophical and policy differences exists, survives and thrives, and that decisions based in democratic principles emerge. There should be tension, vigorous debate, divergence of philosophy, policy and opinion. The healthier government not only allows but encourages robust debate over philosophical and policy differences. It encourages, rather than attempts to suppress, active participation of all points of view, including the ones not held by those transiently in power.
We are seeing the opposite, the effects of authoritarian efforts to suppress assembly, speech, debate, protest and the press, in clear violation of founding principles and core constitutional doctrine necessary to sustain a system of self-government.
I’ve seen an interesting narrative that runs counter to the stated objectives of anti-Trump coalitions that are springing up. People posit warnings that conservatives who abandoned the GOP and are taking on Trump cannot be trusted, their motives are not pure, they will return to their conservative ways post-election and attempt to undermine a Biden administration. This ill-conceived argument suggests a misconception that being anti-Trump and anti-most-of-what-Trump-stands-for and the mess he is making of our country falls outside conservative doctrine. Indeed, many of the anti-Trumpers and their coalitions believe, and eloquently articulate, that Trumpism represents the total abandonment of core conservative beliefs and values. The argument also suggests a misinformed view that conservatives who are against Trump do not share higher values, in the hierarchy of values, with progressives, the ones meant to preserve and sustain principles of liberal democracy.
It’s somewhat disingenuous, in my view, to argue that GOP members of the House and Senate violate their Oaths of Office by placing party over country (which they clearly do), to then argue that conservatives who wish to preserve the fundamentals of liberal democracy—even if it means later to engage in robust policy debates against progressive agendas—cannot be trusted or are not properly motivated. Trump and his band of corrupt enablers pose the greatest threat, a clear and present danger, to our form of government, at least during my lifetime. The values that matter most in the grand scheme of values are shared by progressives and conservatives alike who are against Trump, his enablers and their collective destruction of the core sustaining principles of our democratic republic.
One party went rogue, was hijacked, and became part and parcel of a racketeer-influenced corrupt organization, now a massive criminal enterprise whose headquarters are in the Oval Office. The party of Trump has no interest in actual governing, but instead in holding power through authoritarian rule. One example is sending untrained, no-name, armed federal militias to major cities in blue states under pretext but meant to incite trouble and create photo-ops, while exhibiting catastrophic paralysis and incompetence in the face of the pandemic. Trump IS and for some time will be the leading cause of death in the United States. Preserving underlying principles of self-government—mechanisms to keep government overreach in check, a balance of power among the coordinate branches of government, speech, assembly and protest in the public square, the press, free and fair elections, equal application of the rule of law—are anathema to Trump’s keeping hold on power.
So I am delighted with the likes of The Lincoln Project, whose leadership of never-Trumpers recognizes the GOP abandoned the core of conservative values in exchange for a shell of rogue imposter Trump loyalists, low-lifes, crooks, cheats, enablers, imbeciles, useful idiots and traitors. In a recent interview, one of its co-founders, John Weaver, who is serving penance for his own anti-democratic misdeeds including helping lay the groundwork for a Trump-type presidency, affirmed that “defeating Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box” is the organization’s mission without hidden agenda. He recognized that eradicating both the circumstances that led to a Trump presidency and its devastating effects on democratic institutions demands a long-term commitment to principles that haven’t historically been part of the conservative platform. This group of former GOPs are committed to massive voter turnout, concrete expansion of voting rights after Trump, and cleaning up the mess created by the Trump presidency by throwing full support behind a Biden administration.
Weaver explained that “binding the ‘wounds’ of the Trump era . . . includes working against Republicans who try to prevent Biden from addressing out deep crises.” The interviewer wrote:
“If the Lincoln Project has a broader agenda, then, it appears to be burning down as much of the GOP that helped bring us Trump as possible. Obviously, we should approach all this with a trust-but-verify skepticism, but Weaver has now planted markers for us to judge the group against.”
But, frankly, I am not concerned about that organization’s longer-term goals or objectives. Given the exigency of the threat Trump poses, I am content in the short term with “the enemy of my enemy . . . .” By all appearances, they want and believe in strong leadership. So do we. By all appearances, they want to eliminate corruption in government. So do we. By all appearances, they want to hold corrupt politicians accountable. So do we. By all appearances, they (now) want free and fair elections. So do we. By all appearances, they want to preserve First Amendment principles of assembly, speech, protest and press. So do we. By all appearances, they want whistleblowers heard and protected. So do we. By all appearances, they want independent inspectors general to conduct full investigations and report their findings to Congress. So do we. By all appearances, they want a fully functioning House and Senate. So do we. By all appearances they want to hold accountable and defeat vulnerable GOP Senators who abandoned their country for Trump. So do we. By all appearances, they want a fully functioning Department of Justice, independent of the White House, one with a uniform system of justice under the rule of law. So do we. By all appearances, they want Barr impeached and held accountable. So do we. By all appearances, they want the Trump family co-conspirators held accountable. So do we. By all appearances, they want Trump held accountable for his betrayal of United States soldiers in the face of Russian bounty. So do we. By all appearances, they want Trump and his enablers fully exposed and held accountable for what they are, clear and present dangers to the United States and its citizens. So do we.
And, these former GOP political strategists, thankfully, are extremely adept at going for the jugular. I’m glad we are on the same side, at least for now.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com. His second novel, The Contortionists, will be released by Signature Books during the fall of 2020.
**Richard J Van Wagoner is my father. His list of honors, awards and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in a number of traveling shows domestically and internationally. My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com are hers.