US President Donald Trump addresses a rally in Dalton, Georgia, the US, January 4 2021. Picture: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER
US President Donald Trump addresses a rally in Dalton, Georgia, the US, January 4 2021. Picture: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER

Reassuring as condemnations might be from Missouri governor Mike Parson, senator Roy Blunt and representative Ann Wagner, they are much too little and come way too late.

These Republican leaders, all having shared a spot on the national stage during the Trump presidency, had multiple occasions and strong justifications to stand up and condemn Trump’s dangerous rhetoric. Yet they waited to speak out until long after armed thugs, instigated by Trump, had rampaged across Capitol Hill, defiling the House of Representatives and Senate.

This newspaper has spent years prodding and urging our elected leaders to summon the courage to stand against Trump’s most despotic tendencies. Yet they repeatedly opted for cowardly silence. That made them complicit in the deadly violence that occurred on Wednesday.

Republican senator Josh Hawley had the gall to stand before the Senate on Wednesday night and feign shock at what happened — hours after he had fist-pumped and cheered the rioters as they arrived on Capitol Hill. Hawley’s tardy, cover-his-ass condemnation of the violence ranks at the top of his substantial list of phoney, smarmy and politically expedient declarations.

Americans have had enough of Trumpism and the two-faced, lying, populist politicians who embraced it. Hawley’s presidential aspirations have been flushed down the toilet because of his role in instigating Wednesday’s assault on democracy. He should do Missourians and the rest of the country a big favour and resign now.

Trumpism must die before it morphs into Hitlerism. Defenders such as Hawley deserve to be cast into political purgatory for having promoted it.

It is because politicians such as Parson, Blunt and Wagner held back that Trump was emboldened to escalate his dangerous rhetoric and tweets, reaching the point where he encouraged protesters to “be wild”, while his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, urged a “trial by combat”. And what did the protesters do? They went wild and gavelled-in a trial by combat on the Senate and House floor.

There no longer is such a thing as a neutral zone when it comes to Trumpism. Either Parson, Blunt, Wagner and, yes, Hawley, condemn it loudly and consistently, or they become part of the problem that Missouri voters must eradicate once and for all. /St Louis, January 7.

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