I was born, and spent my early childhood, in the depths of the Depression. To feed our family my father and grandfather went every morning to the South Philadelphia rail yards where they picked up bits of coal that had fallen off the tenders. They would then go into the city and sell what they had collected. Despite the hardship, my father never lost his life-long optimism. He was convinced that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would save our suffering family and the nation. Our family made it through those tough years, and so did the nation.
Ours is the story of millions of others — making possible the election of FDR for four terms, carrying huge congressional majorities on his coattails. For the ensuing eight-plus decades, all the members of our extended family have been dedicated New Deal Democrats.
While our political proclivities have been transparent, I never recall any vituperation against, or even unkind remarks about, Republicans. The political debates we observed — which took place on the national stage, as well as at our dinner table — might have been vigorous, but they were always polite. Dwight Eisenhower, Everett Dirksen, Robert Taft and other prominent Republicans of that era were political antagonists, but not enemies. Things heated up with the coming of Joe McCarthy and continued to be warm in the Ronald Reagan era. Even then, the rhetoric was controlled. These Republicans were adversaries, but they were decent adversaries. Richard Nixon was as close as we came to having a real political enemy, and when he crashed and was forced to resign there was obvious joy among my relatives and most of my friends.
Throughout these decades Republican leaders were respected, if misguided. From Tom Dewey to John Danforth they had our respect, if not our votes. That brings me to the present. It is no secret to anyone who follows my columns that, in my opinion, Donald Trump is a dishonest, wrong-headed egomaniac and the most despicable president in American history. My guess is he will be driven from office before the end of his first term.
Most of us likely have Republican friends. Certainly, a sizable group of my readers are themselves members of the GOP or usually vote for the candidates of that party. However, among the Republicans I know and with whom I correspond, several were part of the “Never Trump” movement. These good Americans were as horrified at Trump’s persona and his announced agenda as I am. They may be in favor of replacing Obamacare with an alternate plan that more closely meets their goals, but they certainly do not want to see a restarting of the nuclear arms race, a trade war, the reinstatement of water boarding and other forms of torture, the dismantling of any effort to address climate change, the construction of an impenetrable wall across our southern border or the eviction of persons who were brought here as infants and know no other nation.
They see what President Trump says he is going to do, and they feel hamstrung! Where are these frightened Republicans and, how long will it be until they realize the disaster that continues to descend on their party and the nation? Pulling out of the Paris Agreement shames all of us — putting nationalism before the integrity of the planet and thumbing our nose at the other 190 nations and the world’s scientific community. There are already signs that for many dedicated Republicans enough is already more than enough. Clearly Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain realize the party is headed over the cliff, and they’ve said so.
The Democrats can fuss and fume but cannot successfully address the current disaster. Only the Republicans can. The time must soon come when they know it.