Claypoole didn’t see Trump’s danger

January 11, 2021

Richard Claypoole’s Jan. 5 letter hasn’t aged well.  By the following day, it was an embarrassing relic.

 In his opening Claypoole wrote that I “cast President Trump in a dictatorial light intent on overturning the election by means most foul.”

The day after that letter was published that’s exactly what we witnessed - a dangerous insurrection that left five people dead, including a police officer who died in the line of duty.

 Let’s be clear. A police officer was murdered because Trump called his supporters to Washington, promised a “wild” day, fired them up with a dishonest, incendiary speech and then charged them to go to our nation’s Capitol where legislators had convened to certify the results of November’s election.

The spectacle of our Capitol being ransacked by a pro-Trump mob - at the direction of the president of the United States - reverberated around the world, horrifying our allies and delighting our adversaries.

 And here’s the thing. There’s nothing remotely surprising about what happened. Shocking perhaps, but not surprising. There’s a direct line going back to the opening of Trump’s campaign, when he first began exploiting the politics of hate and division. It served him well, if not the country.

Claypoole, of course, wasn’t hoping or expecting events to unfold as they did. I don’t know him, but I’m sure he’s a good man who loves his country.

While he personally didn’t think the election was stolen as Trump contends, Claypoole wrote that Trump has the “right to contest the results as vociferously as he desires.” Trump is nothing if not vociferous.

He has refused to accept he lost the popular vote by 7 million votes and that Biden received 306 of the 538 electoral votes.

He has attacked members of his own party who refused to bend to his will. He charged them with being corrupt.

He has pressured state officials to “find” votes. (That’s on tape.)

 In short, Trump has done everything he could to undermine our elections. Claypoole didn’t see the danger that Trump represents, but thankfully others did, including the military.

Three days before the insurrection, all 10 living former secretaries of defense, including Republicans Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, signed a letter to warn America.

These men are professionals, well acquainted with the use, abuse and exercise of power. Two, James Mattis and Mark Esper, are well acquainted with Trump, having served in his administration.

“Our elections have occurred,” they wrote. “Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed.”

These are Democrats and Republicans who saw in Trump a threat to our democracy. They wrote because they feared Trump might try to retain power through military force.

Perhaps someday Mr. Claypoole and I can meet to talk about our different views of the role of the editorial page. In the meantime, we all have to speak out against President Trump’s refusal to accept the will of the people that led to the deadly invasion of our Capitol.

Don Flood
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