In late December, long after the election, columnist Don Keelan proposed the currently vacant Southern Vermont College as the site of the Trump presidential library. My first reaction was laughter, which is probably why Keelan felt the need to assure readers it was a serious suggestion. “Vermont,” he wrote, “starting with the governor, has not been friendly to President Trump. He has been the subject of non-stop criticism; the Vermont media has been relentless. The thrashing needs to end.”
By late January, Mr. Keelan felt otherwise: “In a flash, my four years of attempting to support the Trump presidency was stripped from me. Like tens of millions of other Americans, I was willing to look the other way when it came to the character accusations against Trump initially, during his candidacy and then his Administration since 2017.”
Between those columns, a horde of angry, violent rioters attacked the US Capitol, killed one police officer, injured many others, and placed both democracy and the lives of many elected officials in jeopardy. They did it in the name of Trump.
It took the Capitol attack to make Keelan realize that Trump was dangerous to the country that I believe Keelan sincerely loves. The Big Lie of rampant fraud Trump peddled for two months, fueling the eventual Capitol attack, wasn’t enough. Trump trying to get the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” enough votes to make Trump the winner of Georgia wasn’t enough. Years of Trump offering support and solace to the same racist, fascist, and deluded crowd that conducted the riot wasn’t enough. Trump drumming Alexander Vindman out of a distinguished military career while embracing Mike (The Liar) Flynn’s actions in pushing the QAnon conspiracy wasn’t enough. Trump’s lifelong inability to tell the truth or even discern that there is a difference between truth and lies wasn’t enough.
Belatedly, Keelan has drawn the line and chosen country over Trump, unlike Vermont GOP Chair Deb Bilado and her new Vermont Republican party for whom even the Capitol attack was not enough to break the chain of “loyalty” to Trump and Trumpism. No matter how often they say “America” and “great,” what these loyalists want is to bring the Trump blend of populist impulses, resentment politics and cultural division to Vermont.
What the hell is so patriotic about that?