Are You Complicit?

There are some things that transcend party politics.

These are perilous times, and looking past superficialities to see deep repercussions is important. The current US administration is treading into territory far removed from anything we’ve seen within our lifetimes, from either Democratic or Republican administrations. When basic liberties are threatened and the possibility of nuclear conflict edges closer on a daily basis, it is incumbent on each of us to seek truth, to look at world events with real depth, and to use our voice to say, eyes wide open and with love for America: “No, this is not okay… I will not go quietly into the night.”

I’m a long time Republican who is fiscally conservative, socially progressive, and who believes in a strong separation between church and state. I’ve historically voted for candidates in either party who I see as best suited for office and best able to further the public good. I often quote vocal conservatives like former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum and my friend Albert Nurick. Sometimes, when I feel their arguments are logical and factual, I quote well known liberals like Robert Reich and Keith Olbermann. I make a deliberate effort to stay away from quoting or posting articles from what I see as either right-wing or left-wing extremist propaganda or conspiracy theory web sites. To try to keep bias to a minimum, far more often than not, I’ll read and post from sources within the orange box I’ve added to this graphic:

Journalism Quality and Partisianship 2017 Guide
Journalism Quality and Partisianship 2017 Guide. Source:

Part of what makes America great is that it gives its citizens wide latitude in terms of what they can speak and what they can believe. There are those I know who believe, for example, that they would rather America become a Christian fundamentalist theocracy or fascist state instead of continuing as a democracy that allows others who do not share their viewpoints to obtain political standing. I strongly support the right of such individuals to have and express such a viewpoint, while at the same time I strongly object to seeing their viewpoint come to fruition. Such a point-of-view transcends party politics, and advocates for changing America into something very different than what it is today or has been throughout its history.

Here are a few of the things I see happening today that transcend party politics:

  • When the President appoints a man (Steve Bannon) to be his White House Chief Strategist, a man who is a self-proclaimed Leninist, who advocates for global war and the deconstruction of the American political system, to replace it with a Christian fundamentalist fascist state… it transcends party politics. Even worse when the individual has a history of being an openly racist white nationalist who promotes “alternate facts” on a regular basis, and who was, until just recently, appointed by the President to be a part of the National Security Council.
  • When, without having even the slightest evidence to support his accusations, our president slanderously fabricates false allegations, stating as fact that a former American president committed a serious criminal felony, it transcends party politics.
  • When our president praises our enemies, alienates our greatest allies, and encourages the efforts of Russia, one of our greatest adversaries, to tamper with our election (on his behalf), it transcends party politics.
  • When our president appoints members of his administration, and sets policies, in a manner that is utterly ignorant of the realities of science, it transcends party politics.
  • When a man who is clearly and definitively clinically mentally unwell has access to our nuclear codes, it transcends party politics. When he acts as Commander-in-chief to direct our military and to antagonize those who wish to do us harm, it transcends party politics. As Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz has noted (See: Trump and the Pathology of Narcissism):

    “We’ve had some very troubled presidents in our past, but their troubles are things like alcoholism, paranoia, you know, sort of garden-variety psychological maladies. This is different. This shows a dissociation from reality. We just haven’t seen anything like this before.”

    And as was recently explained in Psychology Today (See: The Elephant in the Room):

    “Mental illness does not need to be professionally diagnosed. We don’t need to be told by a doctor that the guy coughing and sneezing at the other end of the train car is probably sick… When someone is compulsively lying, continuously contradicting himself, imploring the approval of people even as he is attacking them, exalting people one day and abusing and vilifying them the next, then the question of his mental state is moot. The safe thing to do is not just to stay away from him, but to keep him away from situations where he can do harm.”

  • When our president spends on the order of a hundred million dollars of taxpayer money on a military attack designed to bolster presidential approval ratings, divert discussion from the Russia investigation, and to create the impression that he is not a puppet of a foreign adversary, while doing nothing to substantively improve the lives of those he claims he is trying to protect, it transcends party politics. (Ivanka reportedly told him… “We have to look like we care.”) (See: The Media Fell for Trump’s Syria Stunt).
  • When our president uses the Office of the Presidency to financially self-enrich himself, his family, and his friends in a manner unlike anything we have ever seen before in American politics, and he refuses to divest himself of business conflicts, or to provide transparency in disclosing his financial data in a manner similar to what has been done by past Presidents, it transcends party politics.
  • When we have a president who is an avowed sexual predator, who we’ve heard state in his own words that his fame and wealth entitles him to grab women by the pussy and to enter their dressing rooms while they are in a state of undress… we don’t need convictions on his rape allegations to know the kind of human being that he is. Ditto on when he just this week kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Month by defending Bill O’Reilly’s character, on whose behalf Fox News has recently acknowledged paying out on the order of $13 million in settlements on a multitude of sexual harassment allegations (See: Donald Trump Kicks Off Sexual Assault Awareness Month By Defending Bill O’Reilly). Last November every sexual predator and psychological abuser in America learned that half the country has their back. And every survivor learned that half the country doesn’t have theirs. This transcends party politics.
  • When we have a White House so eager to rewrite history and create an alternate reality that it fabricates fictitious terrorist attacks in Bowling Green, Atlanta, and Sweden; and then today proclaimed that either six million jews didn’t die in gas chambers, or that Hitler’s forcing his citizens into gas chambers and killing them didn’t constitute the use of chemical weapons… this also transcends party politics.

I remember reading an article as a child… nearly half a century ago, where the author postulated that if another populist rose to seek power by moving us from democracy towards fascism, 70%+ of the populace would not speak out and object, and a non-trivial segment of the population would support him (or her). At the time, I was incredulous to believe that people would remain silent and that such a thing could happen again, with the world having seen what happened during World War II in Europe.

Today I know that what that author postulated was true.

There comes a point where if you don’t speak out, you are either scared or you are stupid or you are uninformed or you are complicit. Every bit as complicit as Ivanka (See: Hey Ivanka, need some ice for that Merriam-Webster burn?). There simply is no other way to see it.

And if my stating this so blatantly makes you uncomfortable, then so be it.

It isn’t my job to make you feel comfortable.

It is my job to help you be informed, to help you see how the cascading dominoes of world events shape our lives, and to play whatever role I can in trying to save the country that I love.

It is my job to help make America smart again.

Cliff Kurtzman
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