Congresswoman Diana DeGette

Representing the First District of Colorado
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DeGette: Why Donald Trump Jr. Attacked Us

Sep 28, 2018
In The News

Last Sunday, I’m sure most Denver Post readers were scratching their heads, as I was, when they saw Donald Trump Jr.’s diatribe against Democrats splashed across the top of the Perspective section.

I’m sure folks were wondering: Did Donald Trump Jr. just wake up one day with deep concerns that Coloradans don’t know there’s an election coming?  Or is this part of a larger national Republican effort to energize their base before the November elections by attacking Democrats in the most nasty and untrue ways?

Trump Jr. accused us of promoting violence in the name of politics and said we “stand for lawlessness, disorder and anarchy.” The piece was loaded with rhetorical flourishes like “extreme,” “radical” and “waging war.”

Even the headline trumpeted: “Dems the Party of Anarchy.”

I want to tell Trump Jr. — and others tempted to go down this path — this base form of name-calling is not the Colorado way. We expect, and respect, rational discourse on issues. I suggest we all hold our politicians to these standards as the November election approaches.

All the Democrats I know want affordable health care, a clean and safe environment, an economy that benefits all, and steady leadership at the local, state and national levels. For that matter, most of the Republicans I know want these things, too.

We should be able to expect better from national figures, not least the outspoken son of the President, who often acts as his surrogate.

This kind of over-heated rhetoric and ad hominem attacks are emblematic of Trump Administration efforts to suppress dissent, be it from Democratic leaders, the Judicial Branch of our government, citizens who speak out, or groups of activists — a word that Trump Jr. chooses to put in scare quotes in his op-ed.

As Trump Jr. points out, nationally-elected leaders in this country take an oath. But he’s wrong about what it entails. It’s not only “the laws of the land” that we promise to uphold. It’s the U.S. Constitution, where the nation’s bedrock values were spelled out by hand by our founders.

In this oath, elected officials commit to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

Ensuring that our basic rights are protected is a core part of our job. This includes the right to free expression without unreasonable government intervention.

And the right to free and fair elections in a democracy for which our founders fought, and for which many continue to struggle today, is paramount. That’s one of the things we swear to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The White House efforts to suppress dissent are part of an obvious long-term strategy, but one has to ask, what’s the underlying goal of an op-ed like the one published last week, less than seven weeks before an election? Is it to sound the alarm about how dangerous it would be to vote for Democrats? Or is it to distract voters from the many ways in which the current majority in Congress and the leadership in the White House is failing them?

If this is the White House’s “Hail Mary” pass, a frantic attempt to shift the momentum in the upcoming elections in Colorado, we now know how desperate they are.

“The choice this November could not be more clear,” young Trump intoned.

I’ll say.