Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Dean Minnich: Bill Kristol is scared for America. We should be, too. | COMMENTARY

Here we are, huddling in the dark cold days of midwinter, licking our emotional wounds after two years — and counting — of a plague that is devastating the health of nations, communities, families. This after four years — and counting — of civil angst over social and political differences, with threats of civil war.

This nation, this American culture, is on life support, and running out of time.


Have we given up? Our culture’s foundation of trust and faith in each other, regardless of national or ethnic origin, or religious beliefs, is stressed like never before. Can we still value compassion, courage, integrity and honor?

Where do we look for leadership? Not this latest version of the Republican Party.


For those who are old enough to remember not only the Vietnam years, but the Cold War and, perhaps, even the end of the one called World War II, the current times are incomprehensible. How can things be so discordant, so broken and seemingly unfixable in a country that likes to think it saved the world and kept things together until recently?

Journalists are getting on my nerves, and I am one. Politicians have lost all credibility, and I was one, for a short period of time in what seems like another life. But on reflection, what we see happening today was what made a fairly sensible and credible newspaper guy decide to run for political office 20 years ago.

What I saw happening in local politics scared me and was made worse by the realization that few people saw what was happening and those who did either relished the idea of total elimination of political opponents, or didn’t care.

It’s getting worse. Now the likes of Bill Kristol, formerly a top aide to Presidents Bush and Reagan, and a respected journalist and political commentator on national affairs, admits he’s scared. The intellectual force behind The Bulwark, an online news network, was interviewed on the PBS show, “This Is America.” He addressed the question: Can the country come back after the attack on the Capitol by an insurrection clearly planned in advance and urged on by the lies of an ousted president? Can faith in leadership be restored in an atmosphere where the truth and facts get less traction with a population that has come to accept only messages that it wants to hear? Will the Republican Party ever recover from the abdication of ethics and its core values to adopt strategies of winning at any cost, even if it means the destruction of democracy most Americans grew up believing defined us?

Kristol said he is scared for America.

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America is now seen by the world as a nation in decline. Think back to the first attempt to impeach Donald Trump. What did he do that was so wrong, demanded his supporters. For the answer, check today’s headlines on the situation in Ukraine.

Putin has 200,000 troops armed and ready to overrun the government, if not the actual terrain, of that country. This is what those impeachment hearings were about. Real patriotic Americans working in the State Department raised the alarm that this was coming, and they got nailed for it by the money and power brokers behind the Trump administration.

And the Republicans in Congress looked the other way.


On the issue of liberty and democracy American-style, there have been warnings for several years that Republican operatives were being put in place, in key position in the courts, inserted on staffs, backed for school boards and county and city leadership, up to and including getting votes changed after the count, if the election did not go the way the conservative zealots wanted.

The unthinkable was that a president would refuse to turn over the office if the vote went against him. He planned a coup on Jan. 6 — it failed, and he was impeached again. And again, the Republicans — after initial, genuine dismay and outrage at the attack — fell back into line and now look the other way, denying the undeniable.

Anyone who has ever served honorably in politics or community service should be as scared as Bill Kristol.

Dean Minnich was a career editor and reporter and served two terms as a Republican county commissioner. He writes from Westminster.