Juan Williams: Don’t swallow Trump’s poison

Honk if you agree. 

The country is headed in the wrong direction. 

Congress is getting nothing done. 

The Supreme Court is just another playground for politics. 

And at the root of this American decline is a “vicious animal who has poisoned our democracy.” 

That’s a Republican, former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, tying declining trust in American institutions directly to Trump. 

The 90-year-old, a lifelong conservative, added that his party refuses to acknowledge the rot caused by Trump. 

“We’re not really talking about common sense or even politics anymore in my party,” he said in an interview for a new book by Mark Leibovich. ”This is not a Republican Party anymore. It’s a cult.” 

The logic connecting Trump to rising public despair with American institutions — and democracy itself — gained ground last week. 

First, there was news that the Secret Service deleted messages dating back to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by violent Trump supporters. 

Diminished confidence in the integrity of the Secret Service can be traced to Trump’s decision, in mob boss style, to appoint one agent, Tony Ornato, as deputy White House chief of Staff. 

As a White House correspondent for the Washington Post, I held the Secret Service in high regard. These agents were willing to take a bullet to defend the president and a constitutional government. 

Now the deletion of the text messages is leaving the Secret Service facing questions about whether it placed loyalty to Trump over loyalty to country.

“I smell a rat,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the Jan. 6 committee. “That seems like an awfully strange coincidence for those text messages to be banished into oblivion on two days where there was also the most violent insurrection against the union in our history, after the Civil War.” 

Here’s another reason to tie Trump to fading trust in institutions. 

Polls show the Supreme Court, with three justices nominated by Trump, is now also experiencing a sharp decline in public confidence. Over the last year, according to Gallup, confidence in the Court fell 11 percentage points to just 25 percent. 

That fall in support for the Court, to the lowest level in almost 50 years of Gallup surveys, began before the Trump justices ended constitutional protection for abortion rights.  

In the latest Gallup report, confidence in the Court among Democrats and independents is “down by double digits,” the polling organization noted. 

Last week, there was also news that the military, still one of the most trusted institutions, is losing support.  

Similarly, confidence in the police has now “fallen below the majority level for only the second time,” according to Gallup. The previous low came in 2020 after police knelt on George Floyd’s neck, killing him. 

The declining confidence in the military, an institution central to patriotism, is unsettling. But perhaps it should not be so surprising.  

Back in 2020, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologized for creating “a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.” 

He had walked, in uniform, with Trump through a Lafayette Square protest against the brutal police tactics that led to Floyd’s death. He appeared to sacrifice his pledge to defend the Constitution, instead signaling servitude to Trump’s political desire to suppress free speech. 

That act added to the poison of Trump-inspired racial division. 

Just last week, a former Trump aide reportedly called the House probe into the violent attack on the Capitol an “anti-White campaign” in the tradition of Russian Bolsheviks.  

The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jonathan Greenblatt, noted on Twitter that accusations of Bolshevism are “often used as a code for Jews.” 

In 2019, white supremacy was described by the FBI as a “pervasive” threat. In 2020, USA Today reported that “incidents of white supremacist propaganda hit an all-time high,” citing a report by the ADL’s Center on Extremism. 

New York University historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat tweeted this month: “Like Fascists, Donald Trump provided shelter and validation to all kinds of extremists. Neo-Nazis, militia members, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys… they are the paramilitary wing of a radicalized GOP.” 

Perhaps the most depressing part of the Trump contamination is how it has poisoned the GOP. 

The vast majority of the 147 Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying the last presidential election are likely to be reelected and join the new Congress, possibly as part of controlling majorities.

Stephen Ayres gave a sobering reminder of the damage, the human cost of Trump’s poison. 

Going to the Capitol on Jan. 6 cost him his job and now he is facing prison time.

He testified earlier this month that he “felt like I had, like, horse blinders on” when he was listening to Trump. 

“The biggest thing to me is, take the blinders off. Make sure you step back and see what’s going on. Before it’s too late,” he added. 

It is time for all Americans to listen to former Senator Simpson and Mr. Ayres. 

Fellow Americans, don’t let Trump tear apart our faith in each other. Don’t let him tear down our trust in institutions. Don’t swallow his poison. 

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel. 

Tags Alan Simpson George Floyd Jamie Raskin Juan Williams Mark Milley Republican Party

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