Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: GOP tattoos itself with Trump


We have put very small-minded, small-hearted people in positions of very large responsibility and power.  All else that we witness today follows naturally and inevitably from that decision.

And if you want it to stop, if this is not your idea of America, then you have to remove these small-minded, small-hearted people from power, through the voting booth.

Today we watch as they separate mother from child as a political tactic, in our names, as a means of gaining leverage. They claim that these terrified children are in the political equivalent of summer camp, which would be true if summer camp were held inside warehouses with chain-link fences, with the inmates having no idea where Mom and Dad are or when if ever they will be reunited with them.

These people scoff when told that a 10-year-old child with Down Syndrome was separated from her mother, that a blind six-year-old has been snatched away from another mother to parts unknown.

They brag, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions did this week, that aside from being separated from their parents in a time of great stress, these children are being treated better than many American children. 

There is of course no “aside from” those separations, which cause immense anguish and stress in children too young to handle or understand it. But if these storage sites are sources of pride rather than shame, as Sessions implies, why is our own government hiding them from us, refusing to tell reporters and members of Congress where they are located, and refusing in many cases to open their doors to inspection when these sites are discovered?

I know I know: They’re just enforcing the laws as written, finally doing what previous administrations would not through their policy of “zero tolerance” for lawbreakers.

Let me ask:

Does the Trump administration practice "zero tolerance" for financial crimes? No, it is basically dismantling and defanging the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, created to catch and punish those who prey upon unwary, unsophisticated consumers.

“We do not need to have good companies trying to run a good ship be subjected often to millions of dollars of lawsuits or criminal penalties beyond a rational basis because one person went awry or one division chief went awry,” as Sessions helpfully explained last year.

Does the Trump administration practice "zero tolerance" for those breaking environmental law? 

Again, no. According to one study published in February, fines and civil actions against polluters have been cut by half in Trump’s first year, and further declines are expected as cases that were begun under President Obama are carried through to conclusion

Does it have "zero tolerance" for political corruption in its own ranks? Every week, it seems, we discover another Cabinet-level example of corruption that would be major news under any previous administration, Republican or Democratic, yet they go almost unnoticed in the chaos that is now Washington. In just 17 months, it is already the most corrupt administration over a century.

Trump -- the policies of Trump, the character of Trump, the daily deceptions of Trump -- now fully defines the Republican Party. It didn’t have to be this way -- the Republican Party could have served as at least a partial brake on Trump’s excesses, as party leaders initially promised they would. Out of cowardice and sycophancy, they have not kept that promise, not on trade, not on foreign policy, not on immigration, not on corruption, not on anything.

A lot of Republicans and conservatives profess to be bothered by this, with a few even doing so publicly. They look at the future that Trump is trying to impose on their longtime party and their country and they understand its dangers, and they claim to want to fight it. My question is how they intend to do so.

The only plausible means of breaking Trump's hold on the Republican Party is to break the Republican Party's grasp on political power. If you have an alternative strategy, we'd all like to hear it. Under these unique circumstances, in these unique times, a vote for Republican candidates this fall is a vote of endorsement for Donald Trump, plain and simple.  It is a vote for tattooing Trump’s face on the GOP for generations to come, and for continuing this madness through to its ultimate consequences, whatever they may be.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.