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Republican Heimlich: Why I am voting for Democrats this year
I’ve been a Republican since the 1980s – including 12 years in elected office. But this year, my vote in national races is going to the Democrats.
Here’s why: I’m scared – scared of losing our rights to free speech, fair elections and the rule of law. You see, we’re witnessing a dangerous trend in which dictators come to power in once-promising democracies and crush dissent.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has shut down 149 media outlets, fired more than 120,000 civil servants and jailed more than 45,000 dissenters.
Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte encouraged his country’s police to kill more than 12,000 alleged “drug suspects,” and revoked the licenses of TV and radio stations that criticized him.
Vladimir Putin reversed the democratic advances initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin by cracking down on free radio and television, eliminating the independence of the judiciary and creating a virtual one-party state.
What do these strongmen have in common? They’re deeply admired by our president, Donald Trump. In May, 2017, Trump warmly welcomed Erdogan to the White House (while Erdogan’s security detail beat up peaceful demonstrators outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence).
Trump praised Duterte’s drug war as a “great job” and invited him to the White House. Of course, Trump’s affection for Putin is well known, including his hands-off approach to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Trump also has showed little respect for democratic values. He’s talked about toughening libel laws, putting reporters in jail, and labeled the free press the “enemy of the people” (a term introduced by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin for the purpose of annihilating those who disagreed with him). The president has asked the Justice Department to prosecute his political opponents and interfered in the Russia probe conducted by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Finally, despite warnings from his intelligence chiefs that the 2018 mid-term elections are being targeted by Russian influence operations, Trump refuses to take any steps to stop the attack.
Trump has hinted at pardoning those under investigation in the Russia probe – apparently using his recent pardons to encourage potential witnesses not to cooperate with Mueller in hopes of receiving a get-out-of-jail-free card. That means the only justice for any crimes committed by Trump is likely to be impeachment. The Republicans in Congress aren’t patriots – they’re partisans, willing to sell out the country rather than stand up to the Republican base. Therefore, only by electing a Democratic majority in the House – if not both chambers – will Trump, his family and associates ever be held accountable.
I lived through the Watergate era in the 1970s and know that if cowardly Republicans like Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan and Paul Ryan controlled Congress then, there would have been no investigation into Richard Nixon’s crimes and no threat of impeachment. The Washington Post stories about hush money paid to burglars and a cover-up of the break-in would have been labeled “fake news.” Democracy was preserved because the opposition party controlled the House and Senate.
That’s why in 2018 I will vote for Democrats in U.S. Senate and House elections.
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright points out that some of history’s most brutal dictators came to power through elections. She quotes Benito Mussolini, who said, “If you consolidate power by plucking a chicken one feather at a time, people don’t notice.”
President Trump commented recently at a closed-door meeting that China's President Xi Jinping had term limits abolished so he could stay in power for life. "I think it's great," Trump said. "Maybe we'll have to give that a shot someday." Perhaps he was joking, but I’m not taking the chance – I’m voting Democratic this November.
Phil Heimlich is a Republican who served on Cincinnati City Council from 1993-2001 and the Hamilton County Commission from 2003-2006. He lives in Symmes Township.
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY PHIL HEIMILICH, A CONTRIBUTOR FROM CINCINNATI.COM. THIS ARTICLE IS THE SOLE PROPRIOTESHIP OF THE CONTRIBUTER FROM CINCINNATI SITE (https://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/2018/06/14/republican-heimlich-why-am-voting-democrats-year/701476002/). THIS ARTICLE WAS BORROWED AND POSTED BY JEAN SENAT