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Opinion: Trump betrayed supporters, GOP for his role in violent Capitol riots

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 — I don’t think I’m the only Republican who feels a deep sense of betrayal following last Wednesday’s events when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

JIM BROOKS

Betrayal? Absolutely. The man I supported as president the past four years fell victim to his own set of exaggerations, excuses and outright lies by believing that he actually won an election he lost.

The man who has done some great things for our country as president threw it all away. The man who would have been known in history for working to “Make American Great Again,” now has the legacy as the only sitting president who encouraged his supporters to riot and storm the U.S. Capitol in hopes of overturning a national election.

And yes, those of us who supported the president should have seen it coming. For months prior to the election, Trump predicted if he lost it could only be due to massive voter fraud. Knowing well the president’s tendency to exaggerate truth (and falsehoods when politically expedient), I expected continued claims the election was “stolen.”

And the president did not disappoint. In the months and weeks since he lost the election, Trump has been alleging voter fraud at every opportunity. To hear the president tell it, there was absolutely no way he could have not been re-elected. It was clear he couldn’t accept that the majority of Americans didn’t love him.

The simple truth is that whatever voting irregularities took place — even outright voter fraud — was not in sufficient numbers to change the outcome of the election.

We can place the blame for the election outcome squarely on Trump’s shoulders … or more correctly, his mouth. The president was not a politician, a fact that worked to his advantage as a candidate and disadvantage as an elected official. His biggest enemy in his bid for re-election were his own words — those that wounded, insulted and demeaned over the past four years.

At every turn for the past four years, the president was making embarrassing, cringe-worthy statements that insulted or demeaned small — and large — groups of people. The time when he made fun of a disabled journalist immediately alienated him among all American families who have a special needs child or adult in their family. The list of his presidential insults and slights is lengthy.

We know, of course, that Donald Trump is not a good loser. Since the November election, he used every public statement to continue to broadcast his allegations the election was stolen.

The Trump team disputed election totals in the battleground states; the courts listened, then threw out those claims. Crooked judges, of course, that’s why, the president claimed. It couldn’t have been because his team couldn’t provide legitimate proof of massive voter fraud. The failure of his team to prove voter fraud — despite all of the alleged “proof” right-wing websites and news organizations claimed to have — falls on his team. If it happened as they claim and they couldn’t prove it, they’re the ones who failed the president, NOT the court system.

And for weeks, Trump invited his supporters to a rally in Washington D.C. to “stop the steal,” and to “take back” our country. The president’s rhetoric that day is directly responsible for encouraging supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol. Oh, and we can’t forget Rudy Guiliani’s call to supporters for “trial by combat.”

And now, just days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the extreme right is planning more violent protests in Washington, D.C. Its ironic that a group of people who call themselves “patriotic” are so set on undemocratically overthrowing the results of a national election.

And as for Trump himself, the day his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, sources close to the president say his advisors were literally begging him to make a public statement to try to calm the situation. He simply refused to do anything — for hours. When he relented, he issued a couple of mild tweets that did not quell the violence. After his staff wrote an appropriate message for him to record on video to ask the rioters to leave the Capitol and go home, he ad libbed with the usual and expected election fraud claims.

Since the November election, the president has shown an absolute disconnect from reality. As the weeks passed, he apparently began to believe his own assertions of voter fraud so massive that he lost to President-elect Joe Biden in key battleground states. Even sources close to the president have noted his shift to a bunker mentality.

In the end, its a sad day for our Democratic Republic and the presidency.

I have friends who want to believe that there were no Trump supporters in the rioting crowd last Wednesday. No, they were all antifa-types and paid Democratic operatives. No Trump supporter would riot like that.

Well, I agree that most Trump supporters would NOT riot like that. But given the president’s promises of “something big” and the very public tactical planning that took place among Trump extremists, the violence was predictable.

Its a sad end for a president. Our Democracy will endure, however, thanks to the wisdom of our founding fathers, and the men and women today of both parties who remain committed to our democratic principles.

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