Our Last Hope

Published: September 10, 2020

By Jim Lichtman
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Sitting before the Senate Watergate hearings on June 25, 1973, former counsel to Richard Nixon, John Dean, described a meeting with the president.

“I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and that if the cancer was not removed the president himself would be killed by it.”

In our current context, the president is the cancer.

I read Watergate reporter Bob Woodward’s book, Fear, a deep dive early into the Donald Trump presidency.

Three-quarters into reading A Warning by an anonymous former Trump administration official, I stopped. I also stopped reading National Security Advisor John Bolton’s book on page 76.

And I won’t be wasting any time reading any of the other books that detail example after example of Trump’s utter lack of morality.

Nothing, absolutely nothing any of these insiders, reporters, family members, former generals or state department officials,  as well as a former personal attorney say about their observations of a president, who remains a malignancy on this Democracy, will change the hearts and minds of supporters who continue to ignore what is obvious to the vast majority of the country.

Even the recent revelation by reporter Woodward where Trump openly admits that he knew last February how deadly the coronavirus would become but chose to down play it to the American public… and it’s on audio tape… even that will likely fall on the morally deaf ears of supporters.

And anything I write here, won’t change their minds, either.

However, the effluence flowing from the man occupying the White House has grown to such a dangerous degree that I am motivated to address independents and any other American who has not made up his or her mind about the upcoming election.

The critical factor in all this has been the aid and comfort provided by Senate and congressional Republicans who have become collaborators in a nightmare scenario that plays out every day in Washington.

In one of the last chapters of Lynn Olson’s book, Lost Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War, the author talks about those who collaborated with the Nazis.

“Historian Stanley Hoffmann,” Olson writes, “divided collaboration into two categories: involuntary, in which one reluctantly recognizes the necessity of cooperation in order to survive; and voluntary, in which one exploits the necessity and actively abets the enemy for his or her own gain.”

Today’s Republicans are divided into two categories: those who align themselves with a president who blatantly attacks truth, justice and decency for their own gain; and those who remain silent in the midst of chaos and division that is tearing apart the fabric of this country much like the Civil War.

While the conflict of World War II had clear enemies and allies, we are faced with a  war in which Democracy itself is under siege from inside the country, and Republicans should be held accountable for their absence of fidelity to a constitution they took an oath to protect and defend.

In past world conflicts, American democracy was looked upon as the last hope for the world. Even that expression has become quaint and virtually non-existent.

It’s not enough that we are living through a medical crisis that hasn’t been seen in 100 years, we are living with a “leader” who daily demonstrates contempt for the ideals of truth, justice and principle.

While his lack of intelligence, his illiteracy, his avoidance of listening to experts and his utter absence of basic human decency is shocking, his collaborators in Congress are more culpable for their collective cowardice. History will have the final say on Trump, but Republicans in this Congress will forever be looked down upon for abandoning our principles in favor of loyalty to a man devoid of principle.

It’s not “America First”; it’s Trump First and everyone else a … …  distant second.

On June 18, 1940, facing the “abyss of a new Dark Age” – brought about by Nazi Germany – newly elected Prime Minister, Winston Churchill told his fellow citizens, “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”

Facing our own abyss, who will courageously stand up and reawaken us to the truths of this country? Who will be our last hope for this Republic?

“Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism.

“It is high time we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections, and started thinking patriotically as Americans… It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques —techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.

“As an American, I want to see our nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought the enemy instead of ourselves.”

Those words; words that perfectly encapsulate our times, come from a floor speech by Margaret Chase Smith, the freshman Senator from Maine who heroically attacked Senator and demagogue Joseph R. McCarthy for his shameless dependence on “the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.”

Our country is facing another dark time and the choice facing us is no less critical. We can either elect a leader who responsibly works for all the people or a demagogue who works for his own interests.

The country’s last hope is nothing less than its ideals of justice, equality, and truth. However, we need a champion, a leader to stand up and just tell the truth. Someone who will rally the American people to beat back a bully.

Who will be our Chase Smith?

Who will stand up and turn our last hope into our finest hour?


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