So, I went to the Oregon Republican Party’s website and found this video plastered up front and center (it has since been removed, I wonder why? But you can still click the above link to see it). In it Mr. Bill Courier seems completely unable to relate to the majority of Americans who fear the disastrous consequences of the 2016 presidential election. So, I wrote him a letter. I was polite as I could be and my overall tone was helpful. Now, If I see him in the media again acting clueless my next communication may not be so nice. But I do believe everybody deserves a chance to turn around. The letter reads as follows…
Dear, Mr. Courier
I have recently viewed your interview on the show Straight Talk where you expressed puzzlement over certain issues. In an attempt to help move our country forward, I feel that there are some things a man in your position simply must have a clear understanding of. Naturally, you need not agree with the other side’s position, and that’s fine. However, understanding is vital at this juncture in our national story.
First, let me introduce myself. I am a retired staff sergeant from the US Army who served in Iraq as a counterintelligence special agent. I am also a lifelong Democrat who has, on occasion, campaigned for Republicans. I have actively been involved in one campaign for a Republican county commissioner (who won) and two Republican sheriff candidates (who didn’t). My guiding stars in politics have always been the binary constellation of patriotism and pragmatism, and few would call me a zealot of any stripe.
Sir, in your Straight Talk interview, you stated that you, “…hope we can be more honest” in our political discourse, and I agree. When asked about the recent Portland protest, you said, “It is interesting that people would want to protest the results of a free and fair election,” and I would like to elaborate on that. Yes, it is interesting and unheard of! In fact, I do not recall such a nationwide outburst of angst since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
So why is that do you suppose?
I want you to understand, sir, that Donald Trump did not run a normal campaign and, therefore, is not viewed as a normal Republican by the public at large. Instead, he brought a flamethrower to a target shooting match, and although he hit the target the whole shooting range is now burning down.
Not all, but many, of the people who voted for Trump live in the right wing “fake news bubble” where Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a DC restaurant, ordered the assassination of opponents, and conspired to deliberately kill the Americans at Benghazi for…reasons. Donald Trump himself encouraged these fantasies with wild claims such as declaring her the co-founder of ISIS. With crimes like that on her resume, who would vote for Hillary? Well, to speak plainly, people who live outside of the fake news bubble would.
Those who get there news from reputable journalists are appalled by such blatant lies (whether they be Republicans or Democrats), and are disgusted by those who would support them. This is what I mean by bringing a flamethrower to a shooting match. Trump heated up the rhetoric to ridiculous levels with his scorched earth approach to politics. As a result, we are all now living in a burning nation full of fear and mistrust. Would that he had run a normal campaign based on issues this would not be the case.
In the Straight Talk interview, you go on to state that you have no understanding why vulnerable populations such as the LGBT feel they now have a target on their back. True, Trump said little about LGBT issues during the campaign and has made no policy announces detrimental to them as of now. But, sir, please understand that these communities have only gained basic rights, such as marriage, since Obama came to office. Furthermore, Mike Pence has stated his open hostility to their community, and many of Trumps supporters do in fact wear white hoods and swastika armbands.
No, I am not accusing the Oregon Republican party of racism or homophobia. However, racist and homophobic groups have embraced Trump, and his halfhearted denouncements of them offer little comfort to people who have felt vulnerable all their lives. Sir, these people are terrified, rightly or wrongly, that they will lose their basic human rights and you must appreciate that.
Lastly, you were asked about Brightbart. You stated that you have seen some troubling headlines but nothing you would constitute as proof of Steve Bannon’s alt-right or white supremacy leanings.
Well, sir, I have to admit that this is the part that really scares me. Thanks to Trump, we now live in a post-proof world. Sadly, it matters not a damn anymore what people can prove. If it feeds the narrative and gets people excited it is fair game. For some examples I offer the president-elect’s claims that three million people voted illegally, or that throngs of Muslims celebrated in New Jersey on 9/11. Now that proof has been thrown out the window, who will have the courage to jump out and retrieve it?
That is a real question by the way; who will retrieve it? I wound, but who am I that people would notice? Will someone of stature make that leap? Sadly, I doubt it…because that would take courage.
The Republican Party labels itself as the “party of personal responsibility.” Sir, your presidential candidate’s decisive rhetoric, association with false news stories, cozy relationship with racists, and disregard for the standards of proof has created one hell of a fire. And to be clear, only the Republican Party can put it out. After all, with the executive, legislative and judicial branches all under Republican control, you guys are the only ones with access to extinguishers. Thus I would love to see your party take some responsibility and get to work in a positive way. Any further attempts at partisan gamesmanship at this point will have disastrous consequences I fear to envision.
Sir, Americans no longer disagree with each other, they flat out fear each other. Trust in basic conventions of government has been shattered, and we no longer live in a world where it would be feasible for a Democrat to help a Republican friend who’s running for sheriff, or county commissioner—because, the other side is no longer seen as simply the opposition…but the hated enemy (After all, if I voted for Hillary that means I support child sex trafficking, right?).
If the Republican Party does not acknowledge their responsibility to put out this fire on the shooting range, I literally see no hope for the America I spent twenty years defending. And, frankly, there’s no hope even in that if a man in your position can’t understand the other side’s point of view. I hope this letter aids you in that endeavor, and I stand ready to offer further assistance if needed. If there is some point you wish me to clarify or elaborate on I can be reached at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
Do I sound worried about all this? I’m sure I do. But the truth is, sir, that I’m not worried…I’m flat out terrified.
Good luck to us all.
Clayton J. Callahan (staff sergeant (SA), US Army, retired)