Much has been made of President Obama’s failure to attack Syria after he stated that the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria would cross a “red line.” After a thousand people were killed a year later in a Sarin attack, the administration waffled and eventually accepted a deal in which Assad, assisted by Russia, would voluntarily relinquish massive amounts of chemical weapons. That never happened, and congressional Republicans simultaneously bashed Obama for his failure while withholding their support for an attack in Syria.
We now have to acknowledge that the same congressional Republicans, and all Americans, need to define a “red line” of their own when it comes to their support of President Donald Trump.
Let me be clear. I am a Democrat. I am a Liberal. I have never voted for a Republican save for voting for McCain in the 2000 presidential primary and Snyder in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. Both of those votes were defensive measures against an eventual President George W. Bush in the former instance and an eventual Gov. Pete Hoekstra in the latter.
Despite my partisan leanings, I never considered impeachment an imperative during the administrations of Reagan, Bush 41 or Bush 43. And I am on record during my campaign not supporting impeachment of Trump until the events of the last few weeks that clearly show the president of the United States soliciting a foreign leader to aid his own re-election efforts. I never considered what line would have to be crossed in order to fully support impeachment, but much like Justice Potter’s definition of obscenity expressed in 1964, I knew it when I saw it.
Now it is time to consider what line must be crossed for supporters of President Trump to consider his having committed a “high crime (or) misdemeanor,” or at a minimum to determine what line he must cross to no longer earn their support.
At an Aug. 23, 2017, town hall in Muskegon, our own Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) was explicitly asked this question. His answer, a low bar for disavowing someone, was that Trump would have to “break the law” in order for Huizenga not to support him.
I may not be the best messenger to convince Trump supporters that he is not worthy. My disdain for precandidate Trump began when he pushed the birther narrative that President Obama was not born in this country, and was reinforced by his campaign launch in 2015 where he denigrated Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers. It was furthered by the publication of the Access Hollywood tape where he admitted to sexual assault, and has been continually supported by his actions as president.
From Muslim ban(s) to support of Nazis to separation of children from their parents at the border, I have had the opportunity to reaffirm my opposition to the current president on a near-daily basis. On policy, I have opposed him, as I have opposed the last three Republican presidents, based on his disdain for environmental protections, assault on affordable health care and tax policy that favors the ultra-wealthy and large corporations.
I assumed that my Republican neighbors differed with me on these wide-sweeping issues of policy, but perhaps we could agree on breaking of the law to be a disqualification to occupy the highest office in the land.
But now I genuinely ask the question of the many Republican, conservative and evangelical readers of this paper: Where is your Red Line?
You are clearly OK with the president espousing explicitly racist views. You are OK with banning a group of individuals entry to this country based upon their religion. You are OK with the indefinite separation of children from their families and the mistreatment of those children while in captivity. You are OK with fewer people having access to affordable health care and the ever widening income and wealth gap that was exacerbated by the tax cut of 2017. You are even OK with the diversion of U.S. Air Force transport to spend our money at a resort owned by the president.
But is blatantly breaking the law OK?
Huizenga has gone back on his word that a violation of the law would be his breaking point – his “Red Line,” so to speak. In the face of a clear violation of Federal Election Commission laws banning the solicitation of assistance from a foreign government in a federal election, Huizenga is towing the Trump party line. Instead of expressing concern for the content of the conversation between Trump and the Ukrainian president, he is attacking Speaker Pelosi for pursuing the only constitutionally sanctioned action put in place to deal with a president who has broken the law and abused the power of his office.
Are tax cuts enough? Are judges enough? Is the SCOTUS enough?
Huizenga’s Red Line has shifted. Where is yours?