As we head to the August anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon comes a news story this morning showing how much more criminal and outlandish were the actions of Donald Trump following his 2020 election loss. While the 37th president had his own list of unconstitutional behavior, nothing compares to what we read about today about the 45th person to reside in the White House.
Trump pressed top Justice Department officials late last year to declare that the election was corrupt even though they had found no instances of widespread fraud, so that he and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to try to overturn the results, according to new documents provided to lawmakers and obtained by The New York Times.
The exchange unfolded during a phone call on Dec. 27 in which Mr. Trump pressed the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, on voter fraud claims that the department had disproved. Mr. Donoghue warned that the department had no power to change the outcome of the election. Mr. Trump replied that he did not expect that, according to notes Mr. Donoghue took memorializing the conversation.
“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and to congressional allies, Mr. Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.
It goes without saying that that the least we should expect, and demand from any person who is elected president is that the leader has a basic regard for democracy. While there are sure to be policy differences with a wide segment of the nation the citizenry should never need to fear that a would-be dictator has taken over the White House.
I recall when watching the television news at times with my Grandma there would be comments made that Grandpa did not care for Nixon. I think about Herman and wonder, with all that he heard about Watergate, what he would have to say about what Trump has done to our politics. His world of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson would then find a very hard time squaring with the attempt made by Trump to steal a national election.
Why I place this current story into the context of sitting in the living room and watching the news on a larger console set is that my grandparents–and yours too–were not tempered with what I term normalization fatigue. What we have witnessed over the past five years has in some respects deadened our senses and reactions to the complete outrageousness of Trump’s action. In essence, today’s news of an attempted stolen election by the loser of the national balloting is not overly surprising.
The outrage and sincere anger from past generations will be greeted today with ‘that sounds like Trump’ and we move to the next story. The national news tonight will no doubt lead with COVID, wildfires, and Olympic coverage.
What is happening to our democracy, and the willingness to marginalize it among a troubling segment of the nation, are the type of events that our grandparents would have been not only watching, but demanding a resolution so as to never, ever happen again. They may not speak in the way I write, of Trump’s seditious attempts to cancel democracy, but they would know it in their bodies and minds.
Too many today have no regard for the foundations of our democracy, were never adequately taught in school about civics and so today will pick up their handheld device and think the latest news about the Green Bay Packers is what matters.
Grandpa knew better.