Editorial: Nassau GOP could help stop Trump

Editorial: Nassau GOP could help stop Trump

In a speech in New Hampshire last week, former President Donald Trump approvingly quoted Vladimir Putin, the dictatorial Russian president who invaded neighboring Ukraine and continues to rain terror on its citizens.

Putin had criticized the 91 criminal charges, brought by four separate grand juries, against Trump and attacked U.S. democracy.

“It shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy,” Trump quoted the Russian strongman as saying in the speech.

Trump, who is leading the race for the Republican nomination, also approvingly quoted autocrat Viktor Orban of Hungary, who has amassed power by controlling the media and changing the country’s constitution.

Trump called Orban  “highly respected” and welcomed his praise as “the man who can save the Western world.”

The former president also continued to praise two other authoritarian leaders – China’s President Xi Jinping and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un – for ruling their nations with an iron fist.

In his speech, Trump used the term “hostages” to describe people charged with violent crimes in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that was part of an orchestrated campaign to overthrow this country’s 2020 presidential election.

Trump also repeated his own inflammatory language against undocumented immigrants,  accusing them of “poisoning the blood of our country” — a phrase reminiscent of Adolf Hitler in his book “Mein Kampf.” Hitler told Germans to “care for the purity of their own blood” by eliminating Jews.

Trump has said in other speeches the immigrants posing threats to the United States come from Africa, Asia and South America whose populations are predominantly black, yellow and brown. Unmentioned are places where the populations are predominantly white.

On Veterans Day in November, Trump also echoed Hitler in calling those on the other side of the aisle “vermin” and suggesting that they represent a greater threat to the United States than countries such as Russia, China or North Korea.

The threats in this case were Democrats and never-Trump Republicans, including his own attorney general, William Barr and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley.

The former president’s speech in Claremont, N.H., echoed his message of vengeance and grievance, as he continued to espouse the lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

He has said if elected he would use the Justice Department to target his enemies and has threatened to investigate Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, NBC News and MSNBC, over the outlet’s coverage of him.

Some have called his language racist and Trump a fascist whose election would end the rule of law and democracy in the United States.

We agree. As do many former Republican leaders, such as former U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

Both Cheney and Kinzinger sacrificed their political careers by serving on the Jan. 6  House Committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol and speaking out against what they have called the clear and present danger to U.S. democracy posed by Trump.

“Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain,” Cheney said at the end of her opening remarks to the Jan. 6 committee.

No such words have been issued by any Republican officials in Nassau County. We hope that changes.

We believe Nassau County Republicans could play a major role in helping someone other than Trump to win the GOP’s presidential nomination.

Start with County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who was the Nassau Republican Party’s liaison to Trump’s 2020 campaign and offered his full-throated support of the former president.

Blakeman’s opposition to Trump would be particularly noteworthy based on his past support of Trump.

It would also give Blakeman a chance to at least somewhat justify his shameful demand that Hofstra University President Susan Poser resign for, in his mind, not speaking out harshly enough against Hamas for its murderous assault against Israel.

How do you demand that the president of a private university resign over their language related to Israel and support a candidate who is echoing the words used by Adolf Hitler about Jews?

Trump was not specifically calling Jews “vermin” in this case. But most Jews recognize that when minority groups are being attacked, it’s only a matter of time before they are included.

Blakeman could make clear now that he opposes all those who threaten Jews and other minority groups.

The entire Nassau County Republican Party, including Chair Joe Cairo, could also play a major role in opposing Trump and finding an alternative to him in the GOP presidential primary.

Cairo has orchestrated a virtual sweep of town, county and congressional seats by Nassau Republicans in recent years – in a county in which registered Democrats outnumber registered GOPers by 100,000 and in a state that is overwhelmingly blue.

So he and the party have credibility, clout and the ability to elect members of his own party.

Cairo could also use a show of independence from Trump to restore the county’s reputation after the Nassau GOP twice selected George Santos to be the party’s congressional nominee and turned Nassau into a national laughingstock in the process.

Republicans in Congress, the state Legislature, the county Legislature, town government and even village government could take a stand for democracy and the rule of law.

There are at least three reasons why Blakeman, Cairo and other Nassau Republicans will not oppose Trump.

The first is the obvious one. They agree with him.

As objectionable as we find Trump and what he represents, Nassau County’s leaders may like what Trump is offering and may even have no objection to an authoritarian running the country.

Nassau Republicans have had a reputation for being relatively moderate. Maybe the perception was wrong.

The second reason is that Nassau Republicans believe Trump is preferable to President Joe Biden even if they object to Trump’s rhetoric.

They may actually believe Trump’s lies that Biden is threatening America’s freedom or that Biden is guilty of federal crimes. There is no proof of either.

This would be a grievous error in judgment. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

The third reason is that Nassau County’s Republican leaders may not support Trump privately, but believe Nassau County’s voters do. And they would pay for their opposition to Trump with their jobs.

There is plenty of evidence to support this claim. Many prominent Republicans have been chased from their party for voicing opposition to Trump – even his most extreme positions.

A recent Iowa poll found that more than 42% of Republican voters were more likely to vote for Trump based on his saying immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our  nation.”

Is that true of Republicans in Nassau County, who perhaps live closer to the immigrant experience than Iowa residents and understand that this country was built by immigrants coming from all nations?

Here’s a chance to put the notion that Nassau Republicans are more moderate to the test.

History has shown that democracy dies at the ballot box, not at the barrel of a gun.

Hitler came to power in Germany democratically when the Nazi Party attained 107 seats in Germany’s parliament, the Reichstag. In July 1932, the Nazi Party with Hitler at its head became the largest political party in the Reichstag with 230 representatives.

“As a result of the Nazis’ mass support, German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933,” according to the Holocaust Museum. “His appointment paved the way for the Nazi dictatorship after Hindenburg’s death in August 1934.”

You don’t think this could happen in the United States? Maybe. But many Germans didn’t think it could happen in Germany in the 1930s.

Nassau County Republicans could help us avoid finding out if democracy could die in the United States by backing one of Trump’s challengers in the Republican presidential primary.

Or, as Cheney said, they may forever live with the dishonor.

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