WashCo Dems op-ed article

OP-ED: If Orwell Is Right

by George Hough, Washington County Democrats Communications Committee Member

These days we are hearing media pundits proclaim that Donald Trump’s MAGA base is starting to implode, that increasing numbers of Trump followers are seeing through the charade and have finally had enough. These disillusioned followers are seeking alternative candidates to Trump, ones who are seen as more balanced and capable of governing. Perhaps they are on to something. At least that is our hope. Hope further broadens as we witness, for example, that within the Republican Party there is ongoing subterfuge and infighting, and that there are Hunger-Games like struggles for leadership (ask Kevin McCarthy how that worked out for him). While we watch this fratricidal spectacle among Republicans, we can hope that MAGA will finally choke itself out for good.

There is still one outsized problem with this hope. That problem is Donald Trump himself. Despite his multiple legal charges and circus of lawyers who will never be paid, this one singular man still looms large in MAGA world. Simply observe the perpetual and obsequious kowtowing to Trump by top Republican Party leadership. Among the Republican leaders who matter, among those who are the real “deciders” within MAGA world, Trump still rules. Trump can still make or break Republican political careers. If the MAGA base is imploding, then it is doing so piecemeal and on the periphery only. The MAGA core is alive and well because Donald Trump is alive and well. It is our wishful thinking to assume otherwise.

As if we have not already heard enough outrageous pronouncements from Donald Trump, there is more. Recently he declared that as president he will not commit American troops to help defend the NATO alliance if Russia attacks them. Instead, he would invite Putin and Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” with NATO allies who have not met defense spending targets. (1). In this scenario, never mind lamenting what an unthinkable nightmare Trump’s abnegation of our treaty commitments would produce as Putin sparks off World War III–Trump is actively allying with Putin by offering a flashing green light to roll his tanks westward. And yet, still, the MAGA leadership remains mostly silent about Trump’s appeasement of a fellow “strong man.” Broadly speaking, MAGA leadership certainly understands that withholding military assistance for Ukraine’s defense against Russian invaders dooms that nation. And MAGA leadership also certainly understands that Trump’s green light to President Vladimir Putin could lead to a world war the likes of which would level Europe, akin to the rubble heaps of Berlin in May 1945. Yet the MAGA core holds firmly behind this one authoritarian “strong man.” As much as we might wish it otherwise, Trump is still MAGA world’s shot-caller. He has openly declared his alliance with Putin’s czarist dreams of engulfing Europe. Europe’s national security is intricately tied to our own. If Putin is now invited to ravage Europe, under a Trump presidency we will be discarded as well to the wolf.

As Democrats, we have our work cut out for us in this election season with Donald Trump on the ballot. This election is one that matters more than ever. The stakes this time are for the whole of our democratic society. In contemplating a potential return of Donald Trump, I close with the prescient words of George Orwell, who imagined in his novel, “1984”, what the end of democracy would look like: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-forever.” (2).


(1) McGraw, Meridith; Seligman, Lara & Ward, Alexander. Trump advisors rush to spin ‘off the cuff’ NATO remarks. Politico. (2/14/2024).

(2) Orwell, George. (1948). 1984. Cited in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Pp. 711:19. Sixteenth Edition. (Edited by John Bartlett and Justin Kaplan, General Editor). Little, Brown, and Company. Boston.

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