Words matter, and so do votes

The US president recently tweeted: “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”

The broader context for this tweet is horrifying, as it involves betraying allies, further destabilizing an already unstable geopolitical region, and compromising the US national security. But let’s zoom in the statement “I, in my great and unmatched wisdom.”

This statement did not dominate the days’ headlines, although it was reported broadly by the press. It is not grounds for impeachment (a process that needs to follow its natural course). The Vice President and the Cabinet are also not likely to consider it the final straw to invoke Section IV of the 25th Amendment, thus declaring the president unfit to discharge his “Powers and Duties of the Office.”

Still, the statement should dismay every American. It is not a fit statement for a democratic leader, and it sure is unfit for a US President. We expect this type of statement from the supreme leader of an autocracy. Or from someone out of emotional control. Or possibly from someone desperate for shifting public attention.

The statement is neither a joke nor a tongue-slip. It fits the disturbing pattern of presidential behavior that is plunging our country into a crisis of identity and values. Too many Americans have remained silent, or worse, as we implode as a nation and a global leader.

But I still believe that there is little that Americans, at our collective best, cannot do. It is past time to return to normalcy, and to once again become an aspirational reference for ourselves and the world.

For voters, the path forward should be clear:

– Republicans: Do not make this president your 2020 nominee.

– Americans (red, blue, or otherwise): Don’t re-elect this president.


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