Opinion: Several years ago, I was asked, “Are you ready to switch?” That request came from a friend I’ll call Lisa, and was not concerning my sexual orientation, it was regarding my political affiliation.
She had known my political leanings for some time and although sympathetic of her gay and lesbian friends, could not see her way to voting for the party that supported their rights. Instead, she voted with the party that actively campaigned against their rights.
After almost eight years of Donald Trump poisoning the Republican party, I thought maybe, just maybe, Lisa had had enough. After all, surely all those indictments against the former president were bound to have changed her mind.
In Washington, D.C., he faces four felony counts for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In Georgia, he faces thirteen felony counts for his election interference in that state. In New York, he faces thirty-four felony counts in connection with hush money payments to a porn star. In Florida, he faces forty felony counts for hoarding classified documents after he left office and impeding the government’s efforts to retrieve them.
Lisa had witnessed an insurrection where Trump supporters attempted to stop the election certification process and more than 1,146 people have been charged with a variety of alleged offenses.
She saw a jury find Donald Trump liable in a sex abuse case and the victim awarded over $5 million in a judgment. Lisa heard about a federal court issuing a $25 million settlement between students who were defrauded by Donald Trump and his now-defunct Trump University.
She watched the Supreme Court of Colorado rule that Trump did engage in an insurrection against the United States and is therefore ineligible to be president.
Lisa and her fellow Republicans have seen their party fall in line behind an evil man who shares none of their values and will stop at nothing in pursuit of fame, glory, and money.
So, I broke the rule about bringing up politics over the holidays. I returned the question I was asked over a decade ago and asked my friend, “Do you remember several years ago when you asked me if I was ready to change parties? Well, now I’m asking you that.”
You would have thought I asked her to strip and run naked down Main Street singing “WAP.” She was genuinely offended that I would ask her if she was ready to become a Democrat. She said, “You want me to become a Democrat?” with such disgust in her voice that it stunned me. She turned to others nearby and asked them in disbelief, “Can you believe he asked me if I was ready to become a Democrat?”
I quickly decided to drop the topic and changed the subject. What I realized in that moment is that too many Americans do not look at the opposite party as people with opposing views, but as utter enemies that are to be reviled and loathed. Even hated.
How did we get to this point? Some people blame talk radio, or as many call it, hate radio. KTRH-AM, 740, is a prime example of spewing hate 24/7, except on the rare occasion when they throw in a sports or home gardening program.
A lot of blame can be affixed to FOX News and its imitators Newsmax, OAN, and others. Viewers of those networks’ programs are fed a steady diet of racist and anti-LGBTQ+ hate-filled rhetoric.
Given the steady diet of poison absorbed through the ears of conservatives, it should come as no surprise that when Trump uses Hitlerian phrases, they don’t blink. “They let — I think the real number is 15, 16 million people into our country. When they do that, we have a lot of work to do. They’re poisoning the blood of our country,” Trump said. “That’s what they’ve done. They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world, not just in South America, not just in three or four countries that we think about, but all over the world. They’re coming into our country from Africa, from Asia, all over the world. Illegal immigration is poisoning the blood of our nation.” (Adolf Hitler, responsible for the slaughter of over six million Jews during World War II, wrote in “Mein Kampf” that German blood was being poisoned by Jews.)
Ultimately, we are all responsible for our actions and beliefs. Unfortunately, too many of us choose party over country and individual over personal morals and beliefs. And far too many of us can never admit we’ve been mistaken and double down.
Before 2016, it’s like our nation’s politics had an I.V. trickle of poison dripping into its veins for at least a couple of decades. Donald Trump not only opened the valve but blew the vein.