Color Me A Democrat April 2024:  Of Courage, Cowardice and the Misdirected

By Fraser Perkins


Military leaders, to be effective, gain skills such as situational awareness that encompass competency beyond combat ability, technological know-how, and leadership.  The higher an officer rises, the more important “soft” skills become, especially in the political arena.  Officeholders come and go, and Democrats and Republicans swap political leadership, but continuity within the military remains strong at least in part due to armed service leaders maintaining cordial, close, and effective relationships with members of both parties.  When asked, military leaders only reluctantly criticize one party over another, at least publicly.  They recognize the primacy of civilian control over the armed services, and the dependence of the military on both bipartisan support and the widespread support of the American people.

Donald Trump appointed two generals to crucial positions within his administration.  John Kelly, a marine four-star general, became President Trump’s Chief of Staff in 2017 and concomitantly James Mattis, another marine general, served as Trump’s first Secretary of Defense.  What happened after each left the service of the Trump Administration was jaw dropping  – despite carefully honed political skills, both senior military officers launched blistering assessments of President Donald Trump, the Commander-in-Chief they directly served.  

Here is Former Secretary Mattis on Trump, “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try.”

And John Kelly maintained Trump had “contempt for our Constitution and the rule of law.”

By shredding the public persona of Trump, both generals did two things:  they showed exceptional courage, and they burned their standing within the MAGA Republican Party.  

Suggestion to Democratic power brokers:  spare no effort to encourage these two leaders to travel together throughout the country in the fall of 2024 exposing the threat Trump poses to our country.  There remains a rump segment of traditional Republicans who believe, as Democrats do, that respect for our military is a top priority for every president.  These old-style Republicans might reluctantly vote for President Biden, even though they disagree with most of his policies.  In their mind, preserving our Democracy might “trump” disagreements over policy. 

Or, they might choose not to vote.

I invite you to watch a short video on Trump and the military. 


And now for the cowards…all the Republicans who condemned the January 6 insurrection shortly after the assault on our Democracy, yet now endorse Trump for another shot at being president.  The list of cowards is depressingly long so I’ll look at just one…Mitch McConnell.

Mitch McConnell in January 2021, “The mob was fed lies.  They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.”

And now McConnell in March 2024, “It’s abundantly clear that former President Trump has earned the requisite support of Republican voters to be nominee for President of the United States.”  Blah, blah, blah…use words to endorse Trump, yet still provide yourself a fig-leaf of cover.

Regrettably, McConnell is not the exception within the Republican Party, but instead reflects mainstream Republican thinking (or not thinking).

Suggestion to Democratic power brokers:  simply run ads contrasting what Republican leaders said shortly after January 6 with their current statements on Donald Trump.  Customize for each state – there are Republican cowards in most states.

The Misdirected

And now we come to the Misdirected:  third-party presidential candidates.  I have no doubt that RFK, Jr. and other third-party candidates have genuine disagreements with President Biden. Yet, while everyone has the right to run for office, there are times when it’s a roll of the dice and puts our future at risk by dividing support for the one candidate who both believes in our system and has a realistic chance of winning the election.  This is one of those times.  Trump has made his intentions clear – convert our country to an autocracy – guardrails ignored.  In contrast to 2016, he now has presidential experience to harness all the levers of power in support of his goal and bulldoze through any remaining institutional barriers restricting his perceived presidential power.

Suggestion to Democratic power brokers:  Let Trump be Trump.  Simply run his outrageous statements verbatim in the fall.  Week by week his comments become increasingly unhinged; no embellishments are required to expose the danger Trump poses to our country.

Additional suggestion to Democratic power brokers:  Remind women of Trump’s role in overturning Roe v Wade.  All three of Trump’s SCOTUS picks supported overturning Roe.  Unlike the other six justices, Trump’s justices were appointed by a president who lost the popular vote.

And a final note.  Democrats fight to play fair, while Republicans fight to win.  In an ideal world all toddlers share the sandbox, but every so often a bully comes along who tries to hog it all for him(her)self.  Trump is that bully.  In 2024 Democrats need to fight to win…so we all win. 

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