16 May Ignorance Is Its Own Reward
Doing your job as an American citizen is hard, if you take that job seriously. Taking your job as citizen seriously involves, among other things, doing the due diligence required to ascertain something approximating the truth when deciding for whom to cast your vote.
That’s usually not easy, as multiple sources publish multiple accounts of events that may or may not have even occurred. You have to evaluate the sources themselves, and you have to assign degrees of credibility to those same sources, and then measure the sources against each other, in order to build a case for yourself so that you can try to learn who is telling the truth.
Or, you can be lazy and callous with your vote and your citizenship, and just go with your gut and whatever conspiracy theories you’re hearing on your favorite partisan propaganda outlet.
Which brings us to President Donald Trump, who just fired the guy heading the investigation into Trump’s connections to Russia and its leaders, spies and mob. And who, the next day, held a meeting with the Russian ambassador and other Russian officials, closed the meeting to the American press and then proceeded to spill sensitive classified information that the Russians can use to the detriment of our country, our allies and our intelligence sources.
Citizens taking their civic duties seriously could have easily seen this coming. For instance, several dozen foreign and national security affairs experts, all of whom served past Republican presidents, warned the American public back on Aug. 8, 2016, what we would be in for if we allowed Trump to get near the White House. It’s interesting for me to look back at this letter, published in several news outlets at the time, to see just how right these folks were:
The undersigned individuals have all served in senior national security and/or foreign policy positions in Republican Administrations, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. We have worked directly on national security issues with these Republican Presidents and/or their principal advisers during wartime and other periods of crisis, through successes and failures. We know the personal qualities required of a President of the United States.
None of us will vote for Donald Trump.
From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.
Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.
In addition, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and its democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based. At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous Presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself. He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. Despite his lack of knowledge, Mr. Trump claims that he understands foreign affairs and “knows more about ISIS than the generals do.”
Mr. Trump lacks the temperament to be President. In our experience, a President must be willing to listen to his advisers and department heads; must encourage consideration of conflicting views; and must acknowledge errors and learn from them. A President must be disciplined, control emotions, and act only after reflection and careful deliberation. A President must maintain cordial relationships with leaders of countries of different backgrounds and must have their respect and trust.
In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities. He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
We understand that many Americans are profoundly frustrated with the federal government and its inability to solve pressing domestic and international problems. We also know that many have doubts about Hillary Clinton, as do many of us. But Donald Trump is not the answer to America’s daunting challenges and to this crucial election. We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history.
Donald B. Ayer, former Deputy Attorney General
John B. Bellinger III, former Legal Adviser to the Department of State; former Legal Adviser to the National Security Council, The White House
Robert Blackwill, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Planning, The White House
Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; former Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Department of Justice
Eliot Cohen, former Counselor to the Department of State
Eric Edelman, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; former National Security Advisor to the Vice President, The White House
Gary Edson, former Deputy National Security Advisor, The White House
Richard Falkenrath, former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, The White House
Peter Feaver, former Senior Director for Strategic Planning, National Security Council, The White House
Aaron Friedberg, former Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President, The White House
David Gordon, former Director of Policy Planning, Department of State
J. Michael Green, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Asia, National Security Council, The White House
Brian Gunderson, former Chief of Staff, Department of State
Paul Haenle, former Director for China and Taiwan, National Security Council, The White House
Michael Hayden, former Director, Central Intelligence Agency; former Director, National Security Agency
John Hillen, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
William Inboden, former Senior Director for Strategic Planning, National Security Council, The White House
James Jeffrey, former Deputy National Security Advisor, The White House
David Kramer, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Peter Lichtenbaum, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration
Mary Beth Long, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
Richard Miles, former Director for North America, National Security Council, The White House
Andrew Natsios, former Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
John Negroponte, former Director of National Intelligence; former Deputy Secretary of State
Meghan O’Sullivan, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan
Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security; former Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, The White House; former Governor of Pennsylvania
Nicholas Rostow, former Legal Adviser to the National Security Council, The White House
Kori Schake, former Director for Defense Strategy, National Security Council, The White House
Kristen Silverberg, former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations
Stephen Slick, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs, National Security Council, The White House
Shirin R. Tahir-Kheli, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations, National Security Council, The White House
William H. Taft IV, former Deputy Secretary of Defense; former Ambassador to NATO
Larry Thompson, former Deputy Attorney General
William Tobey, Former Deputy Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy; former Director for Counter-Proliferation Strategy, National Security Council, The White House
John Veroneau, former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative
Matthew Waxman, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; former Director for Contingency Planning and International Justice, National Security Council, The White House
Dov Zakheim, former Under Secretary of Defense
Roger Zakheim, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
Philip Zelikow, former Counselor to the Department of State
Robert Zoellick, Former U.S. Trade Representative; former Deputy Secretary of State
And, as it already has turned out, they were right. But it doesn’t matter. Because a huge group of Americans not only failed to conduct due diligence of the person they voted for in the presidential election – they continue to willfully fail to evaluate his ability to serve in office.
Thus, not only are we mired with a demonstrably corrupt, mentally incompetent president who already has committed multiple acts that constitute grounds for impeachment, we may well be mired with him for at least four years. Because the public still is insufficiently motivated to become alarmed over President Trump’s behavior. The latest Gallup polling, for instance, showed that, even after he fired the FBI director and admitted doing so at least in part to quash the Russian investigation, 38% of the American public still supports Trump.
Granted, the latest poll was conducted before the press reported Trump had given the Russians damaging classified information, but does anyone think Trump’s core supporters will change their minds even after learning the latest? I don’t. And without a groundswell of public outpouring upon the ears and phone lines of Congress, this Congress will take no action against a president from their own political party. Because they believe they owe fealty to (1st) their campaign contributors, (2nd) their political party, and then, maybe, (3rd) their country.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I recommend renting a copy of the 2006 film Idiocracy right away. It’ll give you an excellent idea of what, absent a political miracle, life will be like here in very short order.