Among reasons I voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election -- and yes, that means I voted for Donald Trump -- was the idea of bringing someone who wasn't a career politician into the White House. If anything unifies Americans, it's recognition that the same old way of doing things in Washington, D.C., isn't producing results.
Several other factors helped nudge me that direction: (1) As presidents normally do, I thought the politically inexperienced Trump would listen to the cadre of experienced advisers around him; (2) I knew Arkansas was going to vote for Trump, so my vote wasn't going to make much of a difference; and (3) the other choice was Hillary Clinton.
Even the people who predicted Trump would be a disaster as president, at least as far as his personal leadership, could not have imagined just how far he would go.
Our nation, from a preservation of democracy perspective, could have withstood four years of Hillary Clinton much better than it did four years of Donald Trump. She'd have brought a lot of baggage, too, but I don't think she ever would have attempted to stay in office against the wishes of the American people. Had she lost an effort to be re-elected in 2020, she would have never put the nation through the chaos Donald Trump dedicated himself to between November 2020 and Inauguration Day 2021.
Last week's sessions of the House Jan. 6 committee revealed, time after time, that to an extent my hope for wise counsel around Trump had not been folly. Time after time between the November election and Jan. 6, he was told by his campaign and legal advisers that the claims of a stolen election, in the paraphrased wording of former Attorney General Bill Barr, were something like what a bull leaves on the ground from the end opposite his head.
Despite what some Trump supporters want to believe, the folks who repeatedly advised the president there was no "stolen election" were Republicans who had devoted themselves to getting Trump re-elected. "The Big Lie" was not a false charge from the president's enemies; it was the factual findings of those who were willing to do anything -- legal, that is -- to give Trump a victory. But he lost the 2020 election no matter which way anyone looked at it.
Donald Trump either lost whatever capacity he ever had to acknowledge facts or decided he would ignore them so long as they stood between him and what he wanted. It could be that he knew the truth and chose to lie, or it could be that he had become so convinced of his invincibility, so enamored of the treatment he received as president of the United States, that he could not accept the idea anyone wouldn't want him as the nation's leader.
It's impossible to ignore -- though some will try very hard --Trump's concerted effort to stir up emotions, to tap into violent segments of our society, to lie about his vice president's authority to steer an election Trump lost into an unconstitutional takeover of the White House. The Jan. 6 hearings are laying out exactly how far Donald Trump and his dishonest allies were and are willing to go to preserve their power.
I wish any of Arkansas' congressional delegation could have stood strong for the Constitution and helped uncover the evidence that shows how much damage to democracy Trump was willing to unleash in his effort to steal the election of 2020. They're unwillingness to confront an attack on the nation's democratic principles from within their own party tarnishes what I still believe to be their patriotic devotion.
The Trump way of doing things remains a danger to this country. Those willing to shrug off his attempts to hold power help to stoke that danger.