We warned America about Trump, now his supporters have to choose
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If there is truly “no place for white supremacists or Nazis” in American life, and specifically in the GOP, then why tacitly encourage it by doing nothing about it?  

Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were not defeated by furrowed brows and “strong words” denouncing his evil in carefully (and fearfully) crafted statements that avoided specifically using his name. The brave allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, provided salvation for those still alive in the concentration camps and exposed the greatest evil the world has ever known with the murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust by Nazis. They did not achieve this with carefully parsed written statements designed to merely check off a box without angering certain segments of a voting base. They may also have neglected to apply for a permit.

My former boss, Bob Michel (R-Ill.) who served as the House Republican leader for 14 of his 38 years in Congress, was one of our brave men who landed on a beach in Normandy and was wounded as he helped liberate the world from evil. He died earlier this year.  It may be a blessing he did not live to see how far his beloved GOP has fallen, and the sorry state of today’s GOP leadership.

At a press conference Tuesday, Trump glad-handed his white supremacist and Nazi supporters with his claim that there are “good people” on both sides of Saturday’s events in Charlottesville, as if people protesting the KKK and Nazis are just another side of an issue like a raucous high school football game with two teams of equal standing in our society.

While Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel says there is no place in the GOP for white supremacists and neo-Nazis, in what appears to be an effort to have it both ways, the new national spokeswoman for the RNC effectively echoed Trump’s remarks.  RNC mouthpiece Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that the GOP stands behind the president’s “message of love and inclusiveness.

In another obsequious effort to say the right thing but give a wink and a smile to the pro-Trump white supremacists and Nazis, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Republican lawyers brush off Trump's election comments MORE (R-Ky.) issued a tepid statement saying such people were not welcome in Kentucky. He did not specifically address Trump’s effort to defend white supremacists.

McConnell’s wife and Trump’s secretary of Transportation, Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoChick-fil-A drops fight for San Antonio airport location Overnight Defense: US marks 19th anniversary of 9/11 attacks | Trump awards Medal of Honor to Army Ranger for hostage rescue mission | Bahrain, Israel normalizing diplomatic ties Trump marks 9/11 with moment of silence on Air Force One, remarks in PA MORE, stood next to the president at Tuesday’s press conference, and stated that she supports Trump and her husband. In response to a reporter’s question, Chao, aka Tammy Wynette, said, “I stand by my man — both of them.”

CNN reports that “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been publicly silent so far over President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE's latest remarks on Charlottesville, is privately upset with the President's handling of the episode, according to a source close to the Kentucky Republican.”

Privately upset.   

McConnell “is deeply concerned that Trump is reopening long-festering racial tensions, something that could fan the flames ahead of demonstrations expected in Lexington, Kentucky, the source told CNN.”   

Said a source.  Privately.

It is not better to be late than never. Late doesn’t count. And though they were heavily targeted, the early voices warning America of Trump’s sympathies were dead on. In November 2015, during the GOP primary, it was John Kasich who ran a now prescient ad with an ominous warning paraphrasing the anti-Nazi words of German pastor Martin Niemoller:

“You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims should register with their government, because you're not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says he's going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you're not one.”

“And you might not care if Donald Trump says it's okay to rough up black protesters, because you're not one.  And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you're not one. But think about this: If he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you. And you better hope there's someone left to help you." 

The remarks are similar to that of Martin Niemöller's words:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

While many of us knew what Trump was and who and what his staunchest supporters were two years ago, the rest of the country can no longer deny it or avert their gaze. To do so is far worse than being unpatriotic and disrespectful to those who fought and died in the fight against Nazis, or those who fought and died at the hands of the KKK and for civil rights.   

Those who defend, deny, apologize or attempt an argument of moral equivalency to groups and individuals who protest the evil are themselves among the ranks of the evil. And we will defeat you. Again.

Cheri Jacobus is a former congressional staffer, RNC spokesperson and political consultant. Follow her on Twitter @CheriJacobus.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.