A true leader brings certainty to an uncertain world. While outcomes cannot be guaranteed to those whose well-being is in the hands of that leader and history may prove a decision wrong, there must be certainty that the leader relies on good faith and informed judgment. A leader fails when his good faith and informed judgment are in doubt.
Doubt has infected American life under the presidency of Donald J. Trump. We doubt, with good reason, literally everything the man says; we doubt the fairness of our electoral process and therefore we may doubt the outcome; we doubt that he has the country's best interest at heart; we now doubt our institutions, and most of all, we doubt our future under the leadership of Trump. Ignorance is indeed bliss to the minority of Americans who live within Trump's bubble of lies and gaslighting.
After Trump's Senate gave him a hollow acquittal on both articles of impeachment brought against him by the House of Representatives, his remaining time in the Oval Office will be a festering wound of vengeance and insult against all who sought justice in the face of his abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Attorney General William Barr, now hinged to Trump in history forever, will continue to enable and protect America's lawless president with total disregard to the harm done to the Constitution and the American people. As Trump places his thumb on the scales of justice by tweet to interfere with the sentencing of one of his 2016 cohorts, Barr jumps to do his bidding. There is no space between the White House and the Department of Justice after the acquittal. Every Republican senator who voted "not guilty" can now be sure their names will be carved in stone in the history of our nation. Everything is expendable to retain power in a changing world that threatens the now-dominant yet shrinking Republican Party. Subjugation to the leader of a cult of personality is more acceptable than acceptance of a reality where others, denied so long, take seats at the table of power.
We know the country cannot withstand another four years of Trump. The fragile ties that bind this diverse nation together cannot hold under constant dark manipulation by Trump as he pulls us apart to advance his own ends. He hopes most of us will grow weary and concede. It is his intention to wear us down until the doubt he sows ruins us and we are remade in his image. He cannot understand empathy, love, compassion, honor, and duty any more than he understands prayer and a higher power. What he cannot understand he must destroy because he knows he cannot not live up to the ideals that created this nation and continue today even in the face of his brutal assault on those very ideals.
We have outrage and fear of a future shaped by Trumpism to motivate enough of us to the polls to vote Trump and his Republicans out of power. The Democratic Party must find a presidential candidate with unwavering strength to defeat Trump in November. The struggle to define itself weighs heavy on the Democratic Party as it seeks that individual. The party is a large tent that cannot be everything to everybody. However, at their shared core, every Democrat knows it is imperative to defeat Trump in the upcoming presidential election. McConnell must lose his position as Senate majority leader, and the House, with Nancy Pelosi as speaker, must remain in Democratic hands. Only then will the leadership of the federal government return to responsible people and can the nation begin to move forward once again, regaining its pre-Trump momentum toward a better and equal America for all. Doubt cannot overtake Democratic voters as they select the candidate to challenge Trump. He can be defeated in November if Democrats stick together. Any doubt will be played by Trump for all it's worth, as he enjoys a solid base of blindly loyal supporters behind him and is well-funded by them. The fight will be difficult and dirty. Democrats must stand united with the candidate who is ultimately chosen to face this opponent who will sink to depths unfathomable to win.
Doubt is corroding America, and that doubt made Donald Trump possible. He campaigned against Hillary Clinton in 2016 by stirring up doubt to destroy her. It is a certainty that Trump will do it again against his 2020 Democratic opponent. After the devastation done by Trump, McConnell, and now those Republican senators who stood with Trump after refusing to hear witnesses and see documents, we need leadership we can trust to act in good faith and use informed judgment. America must believe in a realistic future. Those of us, the majority, who want to bring America forward must not doubt each other. Once we unite in support of a Democratic candidate who can lead us back to a nation under one reality, we will be able to get past the division caused by doubt and move once again with confidence into a more certain inclusive tomorrow.
Susan SurfTone is a musician, former FBI agent, and regular contributor to The Advocate.