OPINION | Trump has put America at moral crossroads
© Getty Images

The country is at a crossroads. The events in Charlottesville this past Saturday have stunned and traumatized the national psyche. Many people thought we were past this. Many wanted to believe that we had evolved to a point where the hatred and bigotry on display Saturday would no longer be a threat. Sadly, many people were wrong and have received a jarring wake up call.

Many of us however, have had a sick feeling in our stomachs ever since the rise of Trump. In fact, the majority of the country knew Trump was unfit for office. After all, he was defeated soundly in the popular vote in November.

ADVERTISEMENT

We knew he was fueling the anger and hatred. We knew he was trafficking in and feeding the racism, bigotry and xenophobia that seems to be all too alive and well in certain strains of our population. He was doing it with a wink and a nod, with just enough claim of fake naiveté and deniability to give those who want to support him the space to look the other way.  

 

Well now there is nowhere else to look but straight into the eyes of hate and evil and say "enough!"

It is up to all who disavow white supremacy, racism, bigotry and hatred to show the world that America does not stand for what we saw in Charlottesville. It is left up to us because this president has proven he is not going to take that mantle of leadership and say unequivocally that America rejects the vile world view of the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, racists and bigots that marched, killed and spilled innocent blood this past Saturday.

Trump condemned the hate and violence “on many sides” immediately on Saturday. But that was not nearly good enough. It was a clear "dog whistle" to his supporters in the groups inciting the violence in Charlottesville. The backlash was so strong, including from many Republicans, that Trump came out on Monday and was forced to condemn the white supremacists, KKK and neo-Nazis by name.

He was fooling no one — except his supporters. They hailed his move. Even though it was 48 hours too late, and his words were spoken with a visible discomfort and a complete lack of passion and conviction, it allowed his supporters just enough rationale to keep claiming Trump was not trafficking in racism and bigotry.

But in a jaw-dropping press conference just one day after his disavowal of the hate groups, he snapped back to his comfort zone and true feelings. He reiterated what he said right after the tragedy, namely, “There is blame on both sides.” No Mr. Trump. There is not blame on both sides. Many of his supporters know this. Even if they can’t come around to admit it.

But why should Trump’s actions surprise any of us? Let’s take Trump’s own words — not the ones forced on him by some in his inner circle and chief of staff, who know what peril he and they face in the wake of the debacle that unfolded in Charlottesville. 

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE has always trafficked in racism, bigotry and xenophobia:

Trump’s policies also hit home with those who have felt the brunt of his racist, bigoted, xenophobic words and who live in fear every day for themselves and their families:

  • The Trump Justice and Homeland Security Departments are tearing immigrant families apart every day, aggressively going after and deporting immigrants with no criminal records.
  • Trump’s Muslim ban, though only partly enacted, still keeps families of Americans apart and in fear.
  • The president himself endorsed police brutality in a recent speech to the law enforcement community.
  • Trump has never once acknowledged that along with all of the honorable law enforcement officials serving today, there are those that need to be taken off the streets because of their biases.
  • Trump announced he is considering pardoning the criminal and former sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of unfairly targeting and profiling Latinos.

Most people in this country have known who Trump is all along. He has never hidden it. The problem is, just enough Americans have ignored the truth for way too long.

So can we now all say, 'Enough is enough?' Will this past weekend’s tragedies open the eyes of those who have enabled him to rise to the Oval Office and use it to give comfort to domestic terror groups who want to turn America into a battlefield of evil, hatred and lies?  

If not now then when? Republicans, the ball is in your court, and the fate of the country in your hands.  

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.


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