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Minnich: Point four fingers at yourself if assigning blame for chaos | COMMENTARY

Don’t put all the blame on Trump for the assault on the Capitol.

Blame the enablers.

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Pundits say he lit the fuse, but he gets too much credit for leadership.

Anybody can start a fire in a dumpster. You don’t need leadership skills to find tinder and fuel for conflagration; you just have to be willing to toss sparks that will flare and destroy and not think too much about the consequences.

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Trump did that, of course, and as president, it was an unforgivable betrayal of his sacred oath to preserve the Constitution. It was a betrayal of the trust of conservative Republicans who voted for him. But I blame some of them, too. We all knew his lack of character and moral rectitude when millions were casting votes for him. He had a reputation as a grifter and con man who borrowed and lost other people’s money, but some people made excuses for him and said he was a shrewd businessman.

Those people obviously never did business with him; those who did said he was just a well-dressed crook whose best skill was polishing his own ego in the mirror of celebrity.

Americans like celebrities. We spend more time with celebrity shows and magazines than we do on more serious topics, like civics and social justice. More on cell phone time than local or regional newspapers.

So, I blame people who are proud of their ignorance of important issues in the news, who say they don’t read papers, don’t trust the “mainstream media.”

Truth is still there for anyone who wants to respect it. Sen. Ted Cruz was one of those elected politicians whose inflammatory challenge to the electoral vote offended people of principle. Chad Sweet, campaign manager for Cruz in 2015 and a long-time friend and supporter, has parted company with Cruz because of the hypocrisy. That was even before the riots. Sweet was aware of the consequences of a Big Lie; it’s one thing to support your candidate and another to assault the foundations of decency.

Question: How did we get to where Republicans — some of whom might be our relatives, neighbors or friends — can watch what has been building and then came to a head at the Capitol and accept it? One woman who was at the rally at the White House and followed the crowd to the Capitol said she never thought she’d see something like that happen in America, but she was “OK with it.”

Answer: Clues are in the question. She followed the crowd.

Chances are, she’s a nice lady, maybe worked for her local party back home, maybe a wife and mother and maybe even a schoolteacher. But she made a wrong turn at the intersection of critical reason and party loyalty.

She was not one of those who actually stormed the building, destroyed property, killed a police officer and injured others. But she was an enabler.

I have a lot of former friends in that category.

I was taught early that you’re known by the company you keep. That’s why I ended affiliation with any political party 10 years ago, after being a Republican all my life.

We have a right to our differences. But too many people know all about their rights and not enough about their responsibilities and the consequences of their actions.

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There is a big difference between opinion and fact. Respect at least that fact.

Skepticism is a virtue until it becomes an excuse for prejudice and ignorance.

Denial is the bastard child of fear and regret, which in turn gives illegitimate birth to chaos.

Democracy and liberty require hope and faith in each other, regardless of — and because of — differences in ethnicity, origin or orientation, or religious beliefs. It requires tolerance for those who share ideals of peaceful coexistence, fairness in governance, and access to education, health and opportunity.

Dean Minnich is a veteran news writer and columnist and served two terms as a county commissioner. Email him at dminnichwestm@gmail.com.

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