Analysis & Comment

Opinion | A Clash of Views Before Election Day

To the Editor:

For the past four years, congressional Republicans have shut their eyes, covered their ears and muted their voices, ignoring their obligation to serve as a check on the presidency. In a heartbeat, the United States has descended from the lofty perch of democratic idealism to the subbasement of an authoritarian banana republic.

While President Trump has personified the descent, it is equally the handiwork of Republican senators and representatives who have wrapped themselves in the ragged and stained cloak of the enabler. However, with just a few days until Election Day, there is still time for members of Congress to apologize for their silence — and to break it.

This letter is not aimed at those who have joined in thumbing their noses at decency, honor or obligation. But there are many more who have been appalled at what they have witnessed and stunned by what they have accepted as the cost of avoiding insult or losing their precious perches. Doing harm not out of malice, but out of fear, does not make one less complicit in the outcome.

It is not too late for some to escape the judgment of both history and their grandchildren, to break from this presidency and advise against continuing it. Days before Election Day, there is still time for Republicans to repent.

Mickey Edwards
Hingham, Mass.
The writer is a former eight-term member of Congress who was chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and national chairman of the American Conservative Union. He now teaches at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs.

To the Editor:

For the past four years, we have watched those on the left and in the liberal media repeatedly wring their hands over President Trump’s violation of cherished democratic norms. Over and over again we have heard them exclaim that such assaults on democratic norms were corrosive not only to our national politics but to our very democracy itself.

Yet over the past few days, former President Barack Obama, while stumping for Joe Biden, has ridiculed, mocked and condemned Mr. Trump over his handling of the coronavirus, the economy, Puerto Rico and even his Chinese bank account (“Trolling Trump on the Trail, Obama Plays the Heavy With a Smile,” news article, Oct. 28).

In doing so, Mr. Obama grotesquely violated what is arguably the most cherished and longstanding democratic norm of them all, the tradition of comity between presidential administrations, in which former presidents gracefully refrain from publicly maligning or criticizing their successors.

Yet, in the face of Mr. Obama’s political sins, the media has been conspicuously silent. In fact, rather than being castigated, Mr. Obama was celebrated for his “bellicose approach” and “manicured vitriol.”

Of course, astute political observers aren’t the least bit surprised by the disparate treatment afforded the two men by the liberal media. After all, rank hypocrisy, grotesque double standards and selective moral outrage have never been in short supply among the left and in the liberal media, have they? No.

Michael J. DiStefano
Jamestown, R.I.

To the Editor:

Re “She Is Evangelical, ‘Pro-Life’ and Voting for Biden,” by Nicholas Kristof (column, Oct. 22):

Jerushah Duford’s remarkable, courageous and deeply honest decision to vote for Joe Biden despite her strongly held religious opposition to abortion struck a resonant chord in me. I am a Modern Orthodox, Torah-observant woman who cares deeply about the State of Israel.

I know that the vast majority of Orthodox Jews believe that President Trump should be re-elected because he’s been so “good for Israel.” Nevertheless, like Ms. Duford, I am supporting Mr. Biden. Support for Israel is important to me, just as Ms. Duford’s opposition to abortion is important to her.

But equally important to me are honesty, integrity, taking responsibility and admitting wrongdoing. Equally important to me are showing compassion for the stranger, seeing the godliness in each person, caring for the environment, respecting science, providing health care to the poor and strengthening the key institutions of our democracy.

As a human being, as a mother and grandmother, but particularly as an Orthodox Jew, I cannot support a president who separates children from their parents at our borders, refuses to denounce white supremacists, stokes racism and is dishonest with the American people. As Ms. Duford said, this president doesn’t represent my faith.

Fortunately, voting for Joe Biden does not require me to choose between support for Israel and the other tenets of my religion, since he is, and has been for decades, a true friend of Israel. But, unlike Donald Trump, Joe Biden also embodies the other religious values that are of equal importance to me.

Surie Rudoff
New York
The writer is former president of the board of the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education.

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