A prime example is what Tucker Carlson said about Tammy Duckworth during the opening monologue of his July 6, 2020 show:
“Most people just ignore her. But when Duckworth does speak in public, you’re reminded what a deeply silly and unimpressive person she is.” He then added, “It’s long been considered out of bounds to question a person’s patriotism. It’s a very strong charge, and we try not ever to make it. But in the face of all of this, the conclusion can’t be avoided. These people actually hate America. There’s no longer a question about that.”
Duckworth responded on Twitter that night: “Does @TuckerCarlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?” If you don’t know Duckworth’s story, on November 12, 2004, Captain Duckworth was flying a Black Hawk to her base in Iraq, roughly 50 miles north of Baghdad, when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter, taking down Duckworth and three of her crew members. All survived, but the fiery crash left Duckworth a double amputee and later the recipient of a Purple Heart. Since then, Duckworth has gone on to an impressive career, first serving in the House of Representatives after being elected from her Illinois district in 2012, and then moving up to the U.S. Senate four years later winning the seat once held by Barack Obama.
Carlson’s claim, like much of what he says, that calling a person unpatriotic is “It’s a very strong charge, and we try not ever to make it,” is completely untrue. Trump and his minions use that tired expression all the time. It’s also not new. Republicans have spent the past half-century portraying themselves as more patriotic, more committed to national security than Democrats. Richard Nixon’s victory in 1972, Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004 (the only presidential election out of the past seven in which the Republican won the popular vote) all depended in part on posing as the candidate more prepared to confront menacing foreigners. Trump’s ongoing feud with four freshmen Democratic lawmakers, commonly referred to as “the Squad," is a prime example as he has accused Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) of hating America. “I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country. They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said. They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!” he tweeted.
Republican claims that their opponents hate America seems to have increased over the last four years, and really started gaining steam when Barack Obama became President. Obama faced constant accusations of being too deferential to foreign rulers, of being unpatriotic, and even of not being a real American. Republicans, particularly Trump, even tried to question Kamala Harris’ citizenship. I shouldn’t even have to say this, but the Fourteenth Amendment states, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside" Harris was born in in Oakland, California, clearly making her a natural born citizen. The stupidity of people is truly astounding at times, because we all know some of Trump’s supporters will believe she’s not a citizen because her parents were immigrants.
Republicans love to call their opponents unpatriotic, but now we have a president who really is unpatriotic to the point of betraying American values and interests. We don’t know the full extent of Donald Trump’s malfeasance, though more and more of it is coming out especially with the recent bipartisan Senate report from the Senate Intelligence Committee that provided the most comprehensive and thorough examination to date of how Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and how the Trump campaign welcomed the foreign adversary's help. It revealed new information about contacts between Russian officials and associates of President Donald Trump during and after the campaign. What we have learned about Trump’s treasonous behavior would have had Republicans howling about treason if a Democrat had committed these acts.
The irony is that in the past few years this paranoid fantasy in which a major U.S. political party is de facto allied with an international movement hostile to American values has become true. But the party in question is the Republican Party which under Trump has effectively become part of a cross-national coalition of authoritarian white nationalists. Republicans were never the patriots they pretended to be, but at this point, they’ve pretty much crossed the line into being foreign agents. They tout they are the party of law and order, yet, they allow chaos by those who support them. Asked by a reporter about QAnon, a conspiracy group labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat by the FBI, Trump said this:
"Well, I don't know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate. But I don't know much about the movement. I have heard that it is gaining in popularity and from what I hear it's -- these are people that -- they watch the streets of Portland -- when they watch what happened in New York City in just the last six or seven months, but this was starting even four years ago when I came here. Almost four years, can you believe it?
"These are people that don't like seeing what's going on in places like Portland, and places like Chicago, and New York and other cities and states. And I've heard these are people that love our country and they just don't like seeing it."
For Trump, patriotism is only based on whether you like him. If you don’t, then he claims you are unpatriotic. Trump tries to crush any dissention of himself. No matter how evil, nasty, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, etc. someone is, as long as they like and support him, then they must be good people who love their country. It’s so disgusting, it makes you want to cry.
In Joe Biden’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last week, he said:
“But while I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I will for those who did. That’s the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.”
Later in the speech he talked about the failures of Trump:
"Our current President has failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He has failed to protect us; he has failed to protect America. And, my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable. As president, I will make you this promise: I will protect America. I will defend us from every attack. Seen. And unseen. Always. Without exception. Every time.”
Biden is appealing to those who want to save democracy. He is appealing to compassion. He is appealing to intelligence and reason. We cannot allow the failures of Trump to continue to destroy our country for another four years. I don’t think the democratic institutions of our great republic can survive if people re-elect Donald Trump. Trump has consistently attempted to chip away at the very core of our democracy: free and fair elections. He must be defeated!
Nearly a year ago when Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives was moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry, she quoted Thomas Paine. Reflecting the historic gravity of the moment, she repeated a line she had used before:
“Getting back to our founders, in the darkest days of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, ‘The times have found us.’ The times found them to fight for and establish our democracy. The times have found us today.”
The times have continued to find us and beg us to save the Republic. We need Joe Biden to save/restore the Republic and usher in a new era of compassion, equality, and renewed health. I hope on January 20, 2021, we can quote the opening lines of Paine’s 1783 pamphlet, The American Crisis, “These are times that tried men's souls, and they are over.”