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Rob Schofield: Crickets: Muted responses from N.C. GOP to latest Trump outrage
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Rob Schofield: Crickets: Muted responses from N.C. GOP to latest Trump outrage

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The United States of America will celebrate its 250th anniversary as a free and democratic republic in less than five years on July 4, 2026.

At least that’s the plan.

Amazingly, however, this event appears no longer to be a sure thing. As a growing body of evidence has made clear in recent days, our nation came much closer than most of us had realized to experiencing a right-wing coup d’état in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. What’s more, the would-be traitors behind the effort remain on the scene and, by all indications, actively engaged in renewing their efforts.

Meanwhile, the people and organizations with the greatest power to help expose this criminality and stop it — Republican politicians and their allies in national and state conservative think tanks — remain worrisomely muted or even complicit in the scheme.

If this all strikes you as alarmist, you probably haven’t perused the now infamous memo in which Trump adviser and confidante John Eastman spelled out a step-by-step scheme under which former Vice President Mike Pence could have sought to overturn last November’s actual election results.

As veteran journalist Jay Bookman explained recently, the memo was “pretty much a how-to booklet on ending American democracy.”

Historian Heather Cox Richardson described the memo this way in a Sept. 24 post: “We now have written proof of an attempt to destroy our democracy and replace it with an autocracy.”

Bookman’s and Richardson’s assessments are bolstered by many of the revelations contained in the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa entitled “Peril,” in which the two journalists document several of the terrifying details of the final weeks of the Trump presidency.

One of the most notable is their report of the vital role played by — of all people — former Vice President Dan Quayle — in dissuading Mike Pence from acquiescing in Trump’s scheme to subvert the election during the process of certifying the Electoral College results.

Sadly, while Pence ultimately, if grudgingly, did the right thing, many others in the dark circles that surround Donald Trump have no intention of letting something like that happen again. As Brookings Institution senior fellow Robert Kagan explained in a frightening and detailed essay in The Washington Post, Trump loyalists are working to seize control of the election oversight mechanisms in several “purple” states where a handful of honest and patriotic Republicans refused to go along with the preposterous “stop the steal” scheme last fall and winter. This could put us on the verge of an existential crisis come 2024 and 2025.

The only plausible antidote to the group madness that the Trump’s cult of personality has come to embody, Kagan observes, is to be found in courageous Republicans who know better.

Unfortunately, the signs thus far that these people will rise to the occasion remain hard to detect. And North Carolina is a classic case in point.

At a time in which there is a desperate need for conservatives with integrity to debunk Trump’s lies and to talk sense to the rank and file, important North Carolina voices of the right seem instead intent on fanning the flames of discord.

“There’s never been a more critical time in America than right now,” Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said at a conservative Christian event in Mount Airy on Sept. 25.

“Our world is polarized, and it only continues to get more and more divided. Our values are attacked, day after day, our freedoms often becoming an afterthought.”

A similar tone can be found at the John Locke Foundation. The state’s most visible conservative think tank regularly features and/or links to posts from commentators who promote the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

Meanwhile, sane conservative voices like former GOP Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, who differ with progressives over many policy matters, but who are also willing to publicly call out Trump’s crimes and the dire threat he poses to our nation, are as hard to find as an anti-Kim Jong Un columnist in the Pyongyang Times.

The bottom line: Berger was right about one thing: This is a critical moment in our nation’s history. Tragically, however, it’s clear that he and other Trump lackeys have badly misdiagnosed the source of the crisis, and the cure.

Rob Schofield is director of NC Policy Watch, a progressive news and commentary website.

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