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Trump betrayed America and the Constitution. He shouldn’t be welcomed to Ohio as some kind of hero

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Capitol police try to hold back rioters outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo by Alex Kent for the Tennessee Lookout, States Newsroom).

An ex-president, who should be wearing an orange jumpsuit to match his spray-painted visage, will do Ohio the dishonor of swooping into our great state Saturday. In a bygone era of normal, the twice-impeached disaster, under multiple criminal investigations, who tried to topple his own government — and pilfered highly classified documents at grave risk to national security —would be universally shunned as a toxic mess.

But as President Joe Biden said earlier this month, “Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal.” So, the orange insurgent will hold court in Youngstown this weekend to bask in the love of devoted fans and bless the U.S. Senate campaign of a MAGA suck-up who once called him an “idiot.” Clearly, J.D. Vance, phony as a three-dollar bill, has dropped all pretense of principle in his shameless pursuit of power.

Point is, in no reality-based world would a defeated president — who continues to inflict grave damage to his country with seditious poison — be feted at a campaign rally of adoring followers and sycophantic candidates embracing his endorsement as a political bonanza. The scene is straight-up Orwellian scary. Be afraid. Biden’s message was pointed: We cannot normalize this abnormal fanaticism or the American experiment, as we know it, is over.

Biden was speaking urgently to most of us who still recognize the distinction between fact and fiction, truth and lies. With diehard disciples in a cult of personality, the difference between provable fact and groundless fallacy has lost all significance. Surely generations hence will struggle to grasp why so many Americans, blindly loyal to a malicious psychopath and his MAGA red hats, went down the rabbit hole of make-believe with such militancy.

The spectacle is madness masquerading as a movement. Biden raised alarm about the threat it poses to “the very foundations of our republic.” He urged Democrats, independents and mainstream Republicans to confront the extremism, stop the descent into dangerous delusion. History teaches us that total allegiance to a single leader “and a willingness to engage in political violence” for that individual “is fatal to democracy,” Biden warned.

We’ve already seen how cult-like belief in a single leader’s false narrative — completely disconnected from the truth — boiled over into political violence on a sickening scale. For the first time in nearly 250 years, the orderly transfer of power was not peaceful. A bedrock of democracy was corrupted by a sore loser, addicted to power, who refused to accept the results of a free and fair election

He schemed to reverse the outcome of a democratic election, ignore the will of the electorate, and nullify the votes of 81 million people for new leadership. When all else failed, the brooding autocrat wannabe sicced a violent mob on the U.S. Capitol. The Oval Office seditionist who, as Republican Rep. Liz Cheney put it, “summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of the attack,” watched the carnage unfold for hours on TV without intervention.

Certainly, the Republican Party had the opportunity and justification to banish him for life after Jan 6. But the party caved and kissed his ring. It enabled the nation’s worst nightmare to rage on. The empowered megalomaniac is repeating the same lies that led to the vicious attack on our government and seeding the soil for more American-against-American savagery with fear, anger, chaos. He and MAGA Republicans aim to succeed in 2022 and 2024, where they failed in 2020.

They are laying the groundwork for democracy’s demise. It can’t survive, stressed Biden, “when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election: either they win, or they were cheated.” Democracy almost died on Jan. 6. Our revulsion over the crush of insurrectionists brutally beating Capitol Hill police as a storm of subversives rammed doors, bashed windows and went on the hunt to “hang Mike Pence” was normal.

What is insane is welcoming the traitor who fueled that attack to Ohio as a hero. Every candidate who echoes his lies about a “stolen election” and jostles to win his favor stands with a “clear and present danger” and against our republic. Remember hat. MAGA Republicans and election deniers, Biden noted, “look at the mob that stormed the Capitol — brutally attacking law enforcement — not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but as patriots.”

J.R. Majewski, the QAnon-adjacent candidate running for Congress in Ohio’s 9th District, hailed those “patriots” in a campaign ad that showed him carrying and clicking the trigger of an assault-style rifle. “I’m willing to do willing to do whatever it takes to return this country back to its former glory,” the Jan. 6 participant said. “If I’ve got to kick down doors, well, that’s just what patriots do.”

No, J.R., it isn’t.

True patriots, as the democratically elected president declared, respect free and fair elections, the rule of law, the Constitution. They reject violence as a political tool. And there are far more of us “from every background and belief” committed to saving American democracy than there are MAGA Republicans bent on destroying it. Biden is right.

Nothing is more important, more sacred and more patriotic than defending what truly makes America great against those campaigning on a lie to annihilate it.


Marilou Johanek is a veteran Ohio print and broadcast journalist who has covered state and national politics as a longtime newspaper editorial writer and columnist.

This commentary was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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