The majority of us are familiar with the line, if not the origin. But the words spoken directly before that immortal question seem equally as prescient in how they apply to events today. They are:
"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness."
With each day that passes, with each violent outburst - verbal and physical - those words apply more and more to the entire GOP - all its representatives, all its supporters.
It was sickening to see Trump acquit the worst impulses of our neighbors, giving them permission to spew their hatred of the "other." With each campaign stop where crowds gathered and cheered on his 6th grade schoolyard bully verbiage, he grew bolder. As each lie went unchecked, he was in turn encouraged that he could get away with more. And he did.
We watched, open mouthed, as decency was shown the door during the campaign season. With each of his rallies, the rhetoric was ratcheted up, the targets grew, and the audience drew in the worst elements in our society - the supremacists who are so fragile in their threatened whiteness that violence is their go-to response to everything.
Whatever had kept such blatant racism, overt bigotry, and seething hatred in check, was gone. Decency was shown the door, and in walked unchecked cruelty and recklessness. And none of it has ever been called out by Donald Trump, which has been intuited by so many as tacit approval of their message, their goals, their behavior.
Hijabs are ripped off the heads of Muslim women. A black child's birthday party is stalked by garbage in pick-up trucks waving Confederate flags. Hatred is spewed in grocery stores at anyone who looks different. Always some variant of "Go back to your own country." A week ago Richard W. Collins III, a young black man ready to graduate from Bowie State University and enter the Army as a newly commissioned second lieutenant was fatally stabbed by Sean C. Urbanski, who was a proud member of Alt-Reich: Nation. Four nights ago, Greg Gianforte, a Republican candidate for national office in Montana, body slammed a reporter. Donations poured in to the tune of over $100,000 THAT NIGHT. He went on to win the seat. And Friday night, two more people died as a result of hatred run wild, fear-fed ignorance and ignorance-fed fear, when a known white supremacist, Jeremy Christian, thought nothing of cutting their throats when they tried to defend two young women from him (one in a hijab), on a train in Portland.
Our stubby fingered, orange hued, national embarrassment has yet to utter a word about them, how they died, or who killed them.
Again, silence translating as approval.
His only acknowledgement of Gianforte? To congratulate his win via Twitter.
As a result, comment threads are filled with vile bile supporting the body slam. GOP politicians make light of it, some even using it to threaten other reporters. And the pieces of shit who murdered three innocent people are cheered on by a sizable portion of the electorate who have shown the world they have no souls.
It has moved so far beyond disheartening to know, to see, so many of our co-workers, neighbors, and relatives embracing this level of rank cruelty. To realize that so many in our society view so many others as less than them. To see that defending someone can literally lead to your death. And that it will be cheered.
This morning, Trump, back on US soil, let loose with a litany of Tweets again disparaging the media, well, the fake media with their fake news (read: those who report facts that do not support his vision of himself). As the walls continue to close in on him and the swamp things with which he filled the White House, his anger is evident. So used to bullying his way through life, business deals, TV shows - he has no idea how to deal with the real world in which there are consequences for words, behavior, actions, and affiliations.
It is no secret how Trump sleeps at night (when not tweeting at 3 am) - he is a narcissist with no conscience, but I would really like to know how the Trump public-at-large - that wide swath that supports him and the trickle down hatred, vitriol, and homicide stemming from him, no matter what - how do YOU sleep at night? How do you walk into your church on Sunday and not fear bursting into flames?
I seriously do not get it.
I like to win, we all do. So, hurrah, you won the Presiduncy. But the fallout of your behavior? Of you propping up a reprobate who has a decades long public record of sexual misconduct, cheating, lying, fraud, bankruptcy - both financial and moral - and an open disdain for anyone lesser - how do you look in the mirror? You stood at rallies right next to KKK members. And you cheered with them. You bought everything he was selling, and researched nothing that mattered. You were told that it was ok to ignore any information that you didn't like. That by it not agreeing with your gut meant that it was fake. News for you - cognitive dissonance does not mean something is fake. It means perhaps you should get off your ass and do some research.
This conman literally told you that only he could be trusted to tell you the truth. AND YOU BELIEVED HIM.
And now here we are. That ignorance feeding at the trough of fear and hate, and striking out at reporters, fellow citizens who happen to be darker than you, and literally killing innocent people of decency and true character.
My mind keeps coming back to the movie An American President and the scene when the President addresses the assembled representatives.
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.
Trump's words made our blood boil throughout the campaign, yet he was allowed to spew his awfulness and lies because we understand free speech. However, when we tried to employ that same first amendment in our rebuttals we were threatened. Free speech does not mean free from repercussion, consequence, or response from an opposing view.
We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you (insert Trump's name) is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family, and American values and character...
Trump mastered fomenting fear and providing multiple targets to blame - Mexicans, Muslims, black people, women, liberals, all media he did not agree with - and his supporters bought in. As for American values and character? At no point has the famine of both of these been more evident than in a Trump rally and his subsequent presidency. Finger pointing, endangering citizens, targeting other religions, making "grabbing the pussy" some backass virtue.
I literally cringe when I see a red MAGA hat in public. Nothing that he has stood for, none of his behavior in his entire life, has anything to do with the concept of Make America Great Again. Make America Grimace Again and Again and Again? YES. I see that hat and immediately know that the wearer has no sense of decency, embraces cruelty and recklessness. That the person under the hat has no concept of humanity and is only interested in hurting other people, as long as nothing hurts them.
And that's the laughable part.
These people are going to be hurt. You see the stories daily now of Trump voters gobsmacked that they have strayed into the crosshairs of his disdain. Incredulous that their Medicare is going to be cut, that their spouse has been deported, that their insurance coverage is being threatened, that they are literally going to watch their children starve if his food stamp cuts go through.
They were fine as long as the stubby finger was pointing elsewhere. But I have been writing for months that the target net was only going to widen, eventually enveloping even YOU, yes you. That your whiteness, your bigotry, your racism, your homophobia, your Islamophobia, your misogyny was not going to protect you from a man who never gave two shits in a whirlwind about you to begin with. You were an easily led means to an end.
And now, because of YOU, people are dying.
What makes you still think you are immune? We know for damned sure you have no common sense.
But seriously, have you no sense of decency?
These men did: