BIDLACK: Someone tell Donald Trump opposition is not treason

Author: Hal Bidlack - February 9, 2018 - Updated: February 9, 2018

Hal Bidlack
Hal Bidlack

My poor and long-suffering editor here at Colorado Politics is Diligent, Awesome, and Nice, so I call him “Dan.” And poor Dan often has to remind me that the name of the site is “Colorado Politics” and not “DC Politics.” And I really, really do try to write about Colorado. After all, there is lots to write about here in the West. I even got a nice note from a former Colorado governor, telling me he liked one of my columns that talked about, well, Colorado stuff. I should write more about Colorado to make both Dan and any other governors out there, happy.

Which brings me to my topic for this column, Donald Trump. Sorry Dan.

In my Tuesday column a few days ago, I wrote on Mr. Trump’s ongoing challenges with the truth. I noted his tendency to lie about the most basic (and checkable) things, like State of the Union audience sizes. Well, since I wrote those words, our president said something much, much worse. He called the Democrats who did not applaud at various times during his SOTU address “un-American” and then he used the T word – he called them treasonous. Now, my friends on the right are likely to say he was joking, and to get a sense of humor. To those folks I’d offer a couple of thoughts. How vile must a comment be before it isn’t funny? And, because I am quite sure there is a spectacular double standard at work here, I’d ask this: remember when Mr. Obama called the GOP members “un-American?” No? That’s because he never did.

And what was it that upset our president?  Was it a member of the opposite party yelling out “you lie” during his speech? No, that is what happened to Mr. Obama, not Mr. Trump. Was it when our own Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn (see Dan? Colorado stuff!) decided not to attend Mr. Obama’s SOTU? “There’s no job requirement of any kind that a congressman be there,” Lamborn said. “I’ve been getting more and more of an uneasy feeling as I watched the president revert to campaign mode. He’s only out there campaigning. He’s not reaching out.” Do you remember when the Republicans applauded Mr. Obama warmly and respectfully? No? Me neither. You see, for all presidents the opposition party usually sits on its hands during the speech. If Mr. Trump knew much about his job, he’d know that too.

So, in case you missed it, Mr. Trump told the good people of Cincinnati that the Democrats, in not applauding, were “like death and un-American. Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.”

Please, please try to remove any partisanship from your mind, at least for a few minutes, and think about how fundamentally troubling and vile those words are. Even if he was joking, which I think could only be partly true at best, he is saying that failure to blindly applaud a partisan moment like the SOTU is to be un-American. Wow. Double Wow.

If you still are not offended, again please mentally switch out Mr. Trump for Mr. Obama, and tell me if you would be equally sanguine with the latter stating that failure to applaud him makes you un-American.

And it’s worth talking a bit about treason. Frankly, how dare Mr. Trump, even if he was trying to joke, accuse those who disagree with him politically as committing treason? Careful readers of the Constitution recall that this crime is so fundamentally evil that the Constitution itself calls for the death penalty for those convicted of treason. And the Constitution is clear on what treason really is: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” I see no reference requiring support of your political opponents. Indeed, it is rather dramatically the opposite.

The most American thing you can do is to tell your truth to those in power. Opposition is not treason, it’s patriotism. President George W. Bush’s vice president said that to attack a sitting president during time of war was un-American. Then, for the eight years of the Obama Administration, that rule was forgotten by Republicans. Now, it appears, the GOP has returned to that mantra in order to question the patriotism of those who do dare to disagree. This is not leadership. This is dangerous demagoguery.

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.