I’m increasingly disturbed by the administration of President Donald Trump. That’s not a particularly novel or inspired statement, to be sure.

The events over the past few days, however, have pushed my fear into a new realm.

It should be said, I was willing to see how things play out. I have my opinions, as we all do, about how things should work. But at the heart of it, I’m a process guy. I believe in the system, the fundamental truths of our democracy.

I’m advocate of civil rights in our country. I believe that as citizens we have individual freedoms that must be jealously protected. We can disagree on where those lines are drawn – religion versus free speech versus privacy – but if you don’t start with a core foundation, you will never have a reasonable debate.

I am an advocate of human rights across the globe. It has long been a tenant of the United States ethos that we act in such a way that promotes our values in other countries. By any measure, we have never lived up to the full potential of that ideal. We’ve crawled into bed with bad people for what we perceived to be good reasons.

That rarely, if ever works. Remember the Iran-Contra Affair?

I don’t find these beliefs to be in conflict with either of the major political parties in this country. Not really. Not at the base level.

What I’m seeing and reading about President Trump and his surrogates suggests to me, either an ignorance of these fundamental truths, or an abject willingness to throw them aside. I’m not sure which is worse, but they are both really bad and potentially damaging to the freedom we’ve come to take for granted.

A few examples from recent days.

  • The New York Times reported this weekend that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin in June 2016 when offered potential damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Junior’s story keeps changing but basically he’s saying somebody he knew asked him to do it, so he went, didn’t know whom he was meeting with, and it turned out to be nothing. He didn’t disclose this meeting previously and only now did he file paperwork related to a security clearance. You can say all day there’s no collusion with the Russians in terms of meddling in our elections, but if you keep withholding information about meeting with Russians, it’s a hollow argument.
  • The president had his daughter sit in for him at a meeting at the G-20 summit in Hamburg last week. This is absurd. Yes, Ivanka is a presidential advisor, as is her husband, and brother and yada yada. But these are the leaders of the largest economies of the world. Say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing out of a lack of understanding and it could cause problems down the road. It’s true, that other officials sit in when world leaders have to step away. But what qualifications does Ivanka really have to take that chair?
  • President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s hard to say exactly what our president said to their president. But it’s clear that Trump wants to hit the reset button on election hacking. The idea that we can cooperate with the Russians on cyber security is laughable on its face. During the campaign and after, Trump said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could cooperate with Russia?” Sure it would. Wouldn’t it be great if the Kremlin would stop murdering their political opponents? Wouldn’t it be great if the Kremlin would allow freedom of speech and the press? Wouldn’t it be great if the Kremlin would stop absorbing lands as their own and undermining governments? Yup, all those things would be really great. It’s not going to happen.

Which is to say it seems like the Trump Clan doesn’t cherish American principals in the way that previous presidents have.

In his speech in Poland prior to the G-20, the president talked of pride in our civilization, of protecting borders and fighting terrorism. What is becoming increasingly clear is that our president has no sentimentality for the principles of freedom that led to Polish independence in the first place, of the resistance against Soviet rule and persecution of that resistance during the 1980s.

He seems to be much more comfortable with Putin’s vision of a nationalist state that lives publically in a world of hubris, of rhetoric harkening past glory, all the while undercutting the rights of man in the spy-filled shadows of the internet.

My concern is not partisan. Democrats, of course, have been pounding the table for weeks. But you also hear the terse rebukes of Senate Republican stalwarts such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

They know Russia is not to be trusted.

Former intelligence officials who spent their lives – across administrations of both parties -- marking every move by the Soviet Union and the revived Russian state, speak in dismayed terms about what they are seeing. But perhaps more telling is the silence from many Republicans, who can no longer defend the odd actions of the family running our country.

Politics is blood sport.

Power is the ultimate goal.

But when our president appears to undermine the very tenets of what this country is built upon, it’s time for thinking people to speak up.

Is it ignorance, or willful disregard?

You decide.

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