Today, with the end of the presidency of Donald Trump, history’s most dangerous domestic assault on the fabric of American society and democracy is over. Yet the wounds remain.
From the time Trump descended down the steps of Trump Tower during the summer of 2015, I had warned in my columns of this pending nightmare for our nation (https://observer.com/2015/08/george-corley-wallace-and-donald-john-trump/). I was the first mainstream New Jersey columnist to define him in print as an outright fascist. (https://www.nj.com/opinion/2018/11/i_left_the_gop_because_trump_is_not_a_reaganite_he.html ) And during the Fall, 2020 campaign, I noted that Trump was now fully engaged in utilizing such fascist techniques as 1) racist voter suppression and conspiracy theories (https://www.insidernj.com/trump-fascism-suppression-vbm-promotion-rac); and 2) threats to jail his opponents (https://www.insidernj.com/clasical-fascism-trump-proclaims-intention-jail/).
Recently, a number of Republicans have contacted me to apologize for not heeding my warnings. Yet the polls indicate that a majority of Republicans still believe Trump’s lies that the election was stolen from him.
The following was perhaps the most typical of Republican responses I received to my efforts against Trump. It came from a former friend who was very prominent in state government from nearly three decades:
I resent the implication that I am a fascist, racist and anti-Semite merely because I do not share the depth of your irrational hatred for Donald Trump.
This person turned out to be a phony, a fake, and a fraud. I never once made the implications against him that he claimed. When Trump totally fell from grace after the election, he spoke as if he knew the truth all along. And now that the truth about Trump is fully known, no serious thinker believes that my feelings towards Trump constitute “irrational hatred.” Of course, I hate Trump – I hate racism, misogyny, and fascism. But only a self-denying fool or a fraud, which this person was and is, could claim my feelings were irrational.
I have written the previous paragraphs not to dwell on the past but as a prelude to going forward. During the transition, our new President, Joe Biden and his chief of staff, the supremely competent and ethical Ron Klain, have demonstrated their intention to bind up our nation’s wounds from Trump fascism and bigotry. Yet the healing will not be accomplished overnight. In restoring our nation’s sense of national unity, Joe Biden will have three imperatives.
The first is a complete and total repudiation of the Trumpian strategy and tactics of intolerance, be it racism, gender preference discrimination, misogyny, or ethnic hatred. Joe Biden is a profoundly decent individual who has dedicated his personal and political life to eliminating discrimination in all forms. His appointment of a Cabinet that looks like America reaffirmed his commitment to these ideals.
The second is a willingness to listen to all points of view in making decisions. Joe Biden, a man of the Senate for nearly four decades has been a model of openness in government and a seeker of consensus wherever possible.
The third is the most sensitive for Biden to handle: the reestablishment of the primacy of the rule of law.
The incitement and encouragement by Donald Trump of the insurrection of January 6, 2021 constituted the worst acts of outright treason and lawlessness of any president in American history. These two days warrant a Senate trial to ensure that he may never run for office again.
It is not Biden’s responsibility to intervene in those proceedings but simply to safeguard them from improper outside interference. The same is true of any proceedings conducted by the Justice Department on account of any criminal conduct of any member of the Trump family or his administration.
America is a good and great nation because her people are good and great. Joe Biden is a good and great American, blessed with the unique combination of both competency and humility necessary to guide and heal our nation. May we offer every prayer for his success.
Alan Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.