Talbot County
Democratic Forum

Viewpoints

Just over a year into the Trump presidency, Republican Senator Bob Corker’s judgment of Donald Trump—that he “has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today”–has proved to be true. Trump’s performance as President—left unchecked—could fundamentally change the American form of government. No matter what one’s political persuasion— Republican, Democrat, Independent, or other—this should be a grave concern.
The conservative Tennessee Senator’s observation is being borne out in the endless string of scandals emanating from the White House. It is not the affairs with porn stars or the cabinet members flying around in private planes that are the real concern, however. We have had sex dramas before (although not quite like these), and financial corruption is nothing new: the United States can survive them easily. Rather, it is the threats to our democratic government—to the rule of law and fair elections—and the growing suspicion that the President is somehow beholden to Russia and Vladimir Putin that are the real concerns.
In his recent book On Tyranny, Yale historian Timothy Snyder puts it this way: “Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism in the twentieth century,” he writes. “Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.”
It is from this critical perspective that we need to view Trump’s virulent attacks on every branch of government: the Justice Department, FBI, and intelligence community; individual Senators and Representatives of both parties; and federal courts and judges. Undermining these pillars of American government is both dangerous and long-lasting—and history warns us that worse will come. Trump claims that these attacks are meant to protect us from a “corrupt federal government.” Does anyone really believe that?
To make matters worse, we now know for certain that the Russians launched a sustained cyberattack on our elections via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media—and by hacking into individual state voter files. National Security Advisor Gen. H. R. McMaster recently told the annual Munich Security Conference that the evidence of that Russian attack is “incontrovertible.”
We don’t know for certain how successful the Russians’ multi-million-dollar effort was, but the recent indictments of 13 Russians underscore the seriousness of our situation. We are in a fight to maintain our democratic way of life—and it is a battle that we must not lose. Free elections are critical to our continued success as a nation, yet the President has made it clear that he does not care about Russia’s efforts to undermine our elections. He has even refused to implement sanctions against Russia that were overwhelmingly approved by Congress.
Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command, told the Senate in the past few days that he is doing what he can to combat Russian cyberattacks, but that President Trump has never asked him to do anything to stop them. Rogers anticipates that the Russian attacks on our elections will continue into the fall.
Let’s face it, the only way we can put a stop to this is by sending someone to Congress this November who will stand up for our democracy. Andy Harris is clearly not that person.
Bob Potter is a long-time member of the Democratic Forum. He writes from Easton.