My rage at last Wednesday’s horrific terrorist attack on the very heart of our republic grows more incandescent by the day.
I am enraged at the millions of people – largely Republicans, but some others – who have enabled Donald Trump to get us to this point.
And why am I so enraged? Because so many of us have been warning for years of the mortal danger Trump posed to our republic.
We warned you about this in 2011, when Trump first began to elevate his profile as a political actor on the national stage by becoming the chief advocate for the racist lie that Barack Obama was not a natural-born American citizen.
We told you this was incredibly dangerous. But Republican leaders in Congress alternately laughed it off, solemnly but meekly denounced it on Sunday morning shows and then winked and nodded about Birtherism when they were playing to the galleries of Republican gatherings.
We warned you about this again in 2015, when Trump announced his campaign for the GOP nomination with a speech calling Mexican immigrants “rapists.” Republican leaders by and large laughed him off as a joke at the time.
We warned you about this as he began to win Republican primaries in 2016 by doing things like calling for a patently unconstitutional ban on all travel and immigration by Muslims to the United States.
Republicans again laughed him off – though more nervously this time – and said that the party would come together to support a sane alternative. But then they didn’t – and more people started to fall in line behind Trump because of his support for tax cuts for the wealthy and his plan to appoint judges who would rule for gun rights and against gays and health care.
We warned you about this when he mocked a disabled reporter at a campaign rally, and Republicans made a million excuses for why Trump hadn’t really done the puerile thing we all saw and heard him do with our own eyes and ears.
We warned you about this again when, just days before the 2016 election, an audiotape in which Trump admitted to sexually assaulting women came out, and his supporters dismissed it as just “locker room talk” and deflected attention with references to Bill Clinton’s sexual misdeeds.
We warned you about this again in the horrible aftermath of the 2016 election, when Trump was elected with nearly 3 million fewer popular votes than Hillary Clinton.
Many Trump supporters responded to those of us worried about a dark future by saying, “Don’t be so silly/hysterical, and stop making Nazi comparisons because that is simply uncivil. He’ll rise to the office and moderate his wild rhetoric now that he’s actually gained the presidency.”
We warned you about this in 2017 when Trump began implementing all manner of horrible immigration policies while simultaneously engaging in insane verbal brinksmanship with Kim Jong Un.
You told us to give him a chance, that maybe trying a new approach instead of Obama’s allegedly “weak” one might actually end up with a disarmed North Korea.
We warned you about this in 2018, when Trump’s horrific policy of intentionally separating children from their families seeking asylum at our southern border came to light.
You tut-tutted at individuals who took it upon themselves to confront the Cabinet secretaries, press secretaries and members of Congress who enabled and defended this human rights violation in restaurants and other public places. “How UNCIVIL!” you cried.
We warned you about this again in 2019, when Trump was caught directly attempting to undermine our election by bribing a foreign country’s president and withholding lawfully appropriated funds for a crucial ally. His supporters did everything possible to distract from this fact.
When Democrats in the House voted to impeach the president for this obviously impeachable offense, even moderate Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) decided he didn’t need to be convicted and removed from office because “he’s learned his lesson.”
We warned you about this throughout 2020, when Trump repeatedly made perfectly clear he would not accept the results of any election that he lost. You responded by dismissing his claims as mere hyperbole and then changing the subject to Hunter Biden or the Steele Dossier.
We warned you about this in the spring when – amid Trump’s ceaseless lies about COVID-19 – he directly fomented insurrection against the governors of states who were brave enough to do what he failed to by taking real measures to protect public health.
He tweeted things like “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” – and his armed followers responded by literally storming the state Capitol building in Lansing and menacing legislators with weapons.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whom Trump attacked personally and repeatedly, narrowly escaped falling victim to a kidnapping-and-murder plot directly fueled by the president’s lies about reasonable measures to protect public health being “tyranny.” His supporters looked the other way.
We warned you about this in the summer, when a national movement against centuries of state-sponsored police brutality and racism reached critical mass.
As Americans took to the streets in overwhelmingly peaceful protests, Trump obfuscated by intentionally conflating the entire movement with a handful of opportunistic rioters and looters who took advantage of it.
He completely covered my city in armed troops and federal law enforcement. Ultimately, he used overwhelming force to clear out peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park so he could walk across it to have a photo-op, holding a Bible he never reads in front of a church he never attends.
In response, you uttered the most muted and pro forma of criticism on the Sunday morning shows – and then went out Monday morning to hit the campaign trail for him.
And after he lost the election in November 2020, we warned you his continued and easily disproven lies about the election being “stolen” from him were wildly irresponsible and spectacularly corrosive to Americans’ faith in our own democracy.
But his supporters either made mealy mouthed comments about how “The president has the right to pursue every legal challenge available to him” or, worse, actually spread his lies about the election being “stolen,” even though Republicans who won their races were on the very same ballots.
So, this was always how the Trump Show was likely to end – with something horrible, violent and terrifying that does more damage to our republic’s faith in itself than any event since the Civil War.
And even now, his staunchest allies refuse to commit to impeaching and removing Trump from office – and some are repeating insane lies about the rioters being secret Antifa agents.
If our nation survives this – and, at this point, I’m far less certain that we will than I ever have been before – we must hold those who supported and defended such actions and lies eternally accountable.
We warned you. We warned you all along.
A communications professional and former longtime journalist in Washington, D.C., he is a member of The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C. and a member of the GFM governing board.