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We must vote with our conscience, not our party

To the editor:

The days after his acquittal, President Donald J. Trump showed us and the world his true colors and exactly what the GOP is today; a vindictive, spiteful, mean, angry, petty, divisive, lying, unethical cult of self aggrandizing sycophants that will heap praise on a man that denounces the teachings of Jesus as something he “can’t agree with.”

Tow the party line or you will be targeted, you will be destroyed. Come to a different conclusion than the dear leader demands and you will mocked for your faith not allowing you to violate an oath before God. You are either all in team Trump or you are the enemy.

The president has the audacity to assume he knows the prayers of others and that they are “the other way,” meaning what exactly? How does the president pray if it is that he thinks the faithful might pray for someone to fail? But then again, we know how he prays. We saw his performance at the National Prayer Breakfast. The humility, grace, love and reverence he displayed was, well, I guess, hum … showered upon himself?

Judge Andrew Napolitano aptly noted the Orwellian nature of this administration on last Friday’s opinion page. Unfortunately, Saturday’s page pushed the talking points carelessly promoted by all present and praising in the East Room of the White House Thursday afternoon in what seemed to be a state authorized takeover of the airwaves, to broadcast, for all witness, the beginnings of the autocracy. Our unaccountable, unchecked president clearly announced how he intends to weld his absolute executive privilege and rock solid loyalty he rightfully believes he has just earned, and that is to retaliate on those whom he feels have wronged him, attack all enemies, real or imagined, and set the war machine of disinformation, defection and distraction into overdrive.

As this weekend played out we saw that he was not joking! Retaliating against those who spoke truth to power by reassigning/recalling or otherwise firing Lt. Col. Vindman his brother and Ambassador Gordon Sondland. Everyone that has not fallen in line was attacked on Twitter and via his surrogates through every outlet that would have them. Right wing media worked overtime to drive home the disinformation starting with, but certainly not limited to, pretending that the State of the Union was unifying and uplifting. It most certainly was not.

The deflection to the Bidens as Sen. Lindsey Graham admitted that they plan to use taxpayer dollars and government resources to do political opposition research for the president. Finally the distraction from facts to faux outrage toward Speaker Nancy Pelosi for, as she explained, drawing attention to the false and misleading statements on every page of that speech by tearing it up.

We must all remember, as history has shown us, when a government dies from within it dies slowly. When citizens become indifferent to the gradual degradation of norms, institutions and values, the passage of time leads to the inevitable day we wake up and realize they are all gone. In their place we will have new norms — such as trials without witnesses or documents — new institutions such as a Congress beholden to an authoritarian executive with no checks or opposition, and new values, such as accepting foreign interference in our elections.

Democracy will not end with tanks in the streets but with uninformed or misinformed votes at the ballot box. To keep our Constitutional Republic strong we must be vigilant, we must be informed and we must vote our conscience and not our party.

Eric Becht

Mifflintown

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