This is the United States of America. This is where our forefathers brought forth on this continent an enlightened concept of self-governance. This is where every voice matters, and the votes of paupers and tycoons—there are no princes—get equal count at the ballot box. This is where we peacefully have the opportunity to overthrow our government every two years by pulling a lever, touching a screen, or punching a card. This is a place where a hanging chad may determine an election, but where hanging a political opponent never has. And this is the place where one candidate to the most respected office in the entire world just told his supporters they might consider assassinating his opponent were she to become president. You can twist yourself in rhetorical knots, try to diagram a Trump sentence (good luck), and believe whatever you desire, but there is simply no way to conclude he meant anything else. This is, after all, the man who urged violence more than once against protesters at rallies; or did “knock the hell out of him” mean something else? Just watch the crowd. They knew immediately what he said and what he meant.
There is no point in cataloging the Trumpisms that would long ago have rid our electoral process of so poisonous a candidate in any other year and for any other person. You know them all. This recent veer toward the lunatic fringe, however, must be addressed and must be condemned in the most potent way. This is a candidate who has intimated that the President of the United States is a traitor, that he is at least a sympathizer and at most directly supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL (the most appropriate and descriptive name for the group many on the right refuse to say while simultaneously wailing for the administration to “name the threat”). This week, Mr. Trump called President Obama the “founder” of ISIL—the actual founder, he clarified on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, not just the result of failed policy—and said Secretary Clinton was its co-founder. He doubled down saying he, Trump, had given the president ISIL’s “most valuable player award” then stated, “I don’t know if you heard that,” as if this is some ridiculous schoolyard game where he gets to make the rules, name the characters, and bask in his enablers’ accolades. It isn’t a game. None of it is. After weeks of the extrajudicial fantasy of the extreme right (and left, it must be said) to “lock her up,” the mood has taken a far darker turn toward extrajudicial punishment of different kind. Is anyone really surprised? Saddened certainly, but not surprised. This has got to stop. Right now.
Because it is against my nature to let ignorance stand even though it is becoming increasingly apparent facts do not matter to the man or his fans (there is no other appropriate term for them), ISIL grew out of insurgent remnants of the late Zarqawi’s network after the Bush administration correctly decided—yes, it was President Bush’s decision—to withdraw from Iraq instead of leaving our troops without the legal protection of a status of forces agreement. I know this is all far too complicated for the man who says he wants to be the commander in chief, but this is how the dirty business of extricating a nation from an ultimately unwinnable and ill-advised war works. Mr. Trump doesn’t read much and his self-touted common sense missed this blatant fact, yet unfortunately all of that is just a sidebar from his baseless accusation of treason against a sitting president and his calls for an armed uprising against the increasingly probable next. That, my friends, is simply an outrage.
This, perhaps you’ve heard, is the United States of America. Candidates and their surrogates are free to question whether the character of a political machine that turned the Lincoln Bedroom into a Motel 6 is intrinsic to its current incarnation (all evidence says that it is). They are free to question the bona fides of one who claims “America First” but has offshored his own businesses and U.S. jobs (all evidence says they are lacking). They are free to question each other’s fitness for the office and openly wonder why one would not release tax returns or Wall Street speech transcripts. But no one who truly respects the rule of law and the structure of the great American experiment would bring accusations of “high crimes and misdemeanors” without extraordinary proof and the intent to prosecute. And no one—no one—should ever even insinuate assassination. No one. Ever. Were we to tolerate anyone in our midst who does, it would reflect a despicable lack of moral courage and represent a point from which there is no likely return. This—have we forgotten!—is the United States of America.