The outpouring of anguish over the open march of Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville was predictable. As a country, we must stand united against these haters, their ignorance, and all who willingly associate with them. Racial hatred and fascism in all its forms deserve equal repudiation. For President Trump, this moment marks an opportunity to do something at which he has failed miserably so far … act presidential.
Indeed, don’t just act presidential, use the power, prestige, trappings, and dignity of the office to meet a moment in American history.
Mr. Trump addressed the racial unrest and riot in his typical fashion.
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
America doesn’t need another tweet. The twitter world isn’t exactly the home of Presidential leadership, let alone tolerance, civility, decency, and thoughtful discussion. America needs a President, and Presidents either speak from the Oval Office, the Rose Garden, or some other platform of decency.
Mr. Trump should get off the green and on his plane. He should head to Charlottesville with one simple message. Those who divide us by race, color, or religion, are not welcome at the American table. Ignorance and hate are anti-American and incompatible with Liberty and the civil society to which we aspire.
Even before Mr. Trump’s tweet, he was under attack by some in the media, and many on the left for either not responding or for being the impetus for this white nationalist outbreak.
Morning Joe host, former Trump boy and now an anti-Trumper, even tweeted out the suggestion that all of this was the making of Trump’s fault for not denouncing David Duke and the KKK. Well, of course, Trump did that but Joe wanted to dredge up an old issue to make Trump look bad and to get some more followers and retweets.
Donald Trump refused to condemn David Duke and the KKK before Super Tuesday in 2016. Will he again energize bigotry by shameful silence?
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 12, 2017
This is what happens when we cede American moral standing to twitter.
Of course, for some, Trump can never act quickly enough. That includes the soft anti-Trumpism of the New York Times White House Correspondent, Maggie Haberman.
A long lag time for 3 generic sentences https://t.co/Krv4YbgLhD
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 12, 2017
Still, for other Twitter users with large followings, Trump is not simply late to the reaction, he is the reason for the problem, and he is quietly supporting and employing stealth radicals.
Match you words with actions, Don. Why not start by firing Gorka? https://t.co/iXbUzYe3kt
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) August 12, 2017
No matter what Mr. Trump said, where, and to whom, some segment of our broken culture was going to criticize it, exploit it, or reject it out of hand. Mr. Trump really doesn’t need to speak to them. He needs to speak to Americans interested in reason, civility, logic, and decency. In so doing, only those Americans can marginalize the rest.
More Americans than the President knows are thirsting for optimism.
Trump doesn’t even understand our national divide, let alone have a plan or strategy to address this growing disaster. Mr. Trump has the proverbial bully-pulpit, but he prefers to be content only with the labels of bully, rube, or hater. As has been the case from the very beginning, Mr. Trump’s universal communicator is broken.
I have been both a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, and at times a reluctant defender of Mr. Trump. Conservatism demands that I work to bring my President toward the stance and principles that are the foundation of our federal republic. Some Trump critics believe anti-Trumpism is its own religion and purpose, even on the right. There is a war on Trump, and sometimes it is his damn fault. Still, I reject an illegitimate attack on the President.
Mr. Trump is the President, and our country is better off when our President does well. We are weaker when he does not. I can’t replace him, but I will continue to advocate to see that he acts responsibly. When he does not, I will continue to say so.
Charlottesville and the outbreak of anger there has drawn in a vast panoply of Americans, some with dubious claims to the high road, like BLM or Antifa. The resistance, crazy as parts of it are, has the right to protest.
Here’s the irony, free speech protects all the political radicals.
Still, having the right to say something is quite different from having the decency, maturity, and civility to keep one’s mouth shut. And some free speech must be met with better, smarter, sharper and useful speech. Americans are right to use free speech as a shield of decency against those who use it as a sword of ignorance.
Mr. Trump needs to grab the bully-pulpit by its sides and speak directly to the American people as their President. His tweets, like so much of his Presidency are not presidential enough … for most Americans.
The last time I wrote a piece telling a President how to respond to an outbreak of race inspired violence, I was trolled, attacked, and even the focus of a few hit pieces by hard-left racialists. Such is the business of opinion making and sharing.
I go back to the drawing board.
I now give a speech to President Trump. Let’s see if he gives something like it, and does so in a Presidential manner, from a place of Presidential authority. Don’t bet on it.
From the Steps of Monticello tomorrow evening.
My fellow Americans. I speak to you tonight on a matter of national urgency. The United States of America has a growing divide. As president, I cannot heal this divide alone. Together, as heirs to the American dream, we can do so. I come tonight as your president to ask for your help, seek your forgiveness, rely upon your compassion and American grace, and to urge that we act collectively, responsibly, and immediately to reject race-based hatred and division.
The events in Charlottesville this day have put our country at cross-roads. The state of our union is not great. Intolerance and anger have crept into our daily lives. We are at each other’s throats over politics and race. We are simply better than this … all of us. We must be better, and I must be better.
At this fork in the road we must choose unity. We must choose compromise. We must choose civility, decency, and unification. We must choose a world that recognizes our differences, but refuses to use them for division.
That road is hard. It is long. It will be bumpy. At times, the travel will come to halt. However, at the end of that road, sits President’s Reagan’s shining city on a hill. At the end of that road, all of our children will be judged, not by their race, religion, gender, or orientation … but as Dr. King once hoped, solely on the content of their character.
It is the road forward.
My campaign was about making America great again. For some Americans, life has never been great or easy. Perhaps our mandate should be, “Make America Greater … again and again.”
We can only do that through positive action.
President Jefferson once said, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” It is our time to act.
We will never be great through fear and anger. We will never be great through distrust. And, …we will never be great, nor were we ever great when we let race or hatred of any kind divide, demean, and diminish any of our citizens.
I want to take this road with you.
I know … I accept … and I understand that many Americans see me as part of the problem. They view my conduct and rhetoric as unhelpful, divisive, and even hurtful. Make no mistake, I am the model of the imperfect man. Yes … I have engaged in conduct and language that has made it harder to get on the road forward. I accept responsibility for that, and I ask you, notwithstanding my past or our differences to work with me as we slug our way to that shining city on the hill.
I reject racism. I reject division and hate in all its forms. I ask you to do the same.
I will go a step further …
This small band of Nazi’s and White Supremacists who came out to pollute the streets of this fine city … I speak to you.
“Don’t use my name for your cause. Don’t wear my hats, don’t vote for me, don’t support me … and for all that is great in America, don’t come back until you have learned what makes America great”
What makes America great? It’s her people … all of us.
Tonight … I am Charlottesville.
I am the angry resistance fighter. I am the Black Lives Matter marcher. I am the black, the brown, the white … indeed the entire rainbow of America. Tonight … I stand with every American willing to restore hope, happy to fight for civility, and dedicated to make this country greater … again and again.
We are not going to agree on every policy. I don’t expect that, and I wouldn’t want it. What I want is open, frank, civil, dialogue on issues important to all Americans.
As for the other road we face at this fork … it is a road to the fall of American society. It is a road to division on racial and political lines. It is a road to ignorance, hate, and violence. It is an anti-American road.
Liberty, justice, and freedom are won every generation … and it is our time to win them. Most countries and most people really have failed in every way to win the fight for liberty. We cannot.
Fifty years from now, historians will write of this day. What they write … is not up to me alone. It’s up to us.
Today can be a new breath of independence. It can be a new birth for decency, civility, liberty, and justice … quite literally … for all.
While history will be written by others, the reality … will be written by us.
Join me in repudiating hate and division. Join me in rejecting those who sell it, whisper it, or profit from it. United, these great States and her amazing people … can reach a greatness even our founders never dared to dream.
God Bless you … and God Bless our United States.
Author: Richard Kelsey
Richard Kelsey is the Editor-in-Chief of Committed Conservative.
He is a trial Attorney and author of the new book on higher education, “Of Serfs and Lords: Why College Tuition is Creating a Debtor Class”
Rich is a former Assistant Law School Dean and Law Professor. At Mason Law Kelsey conceived of, planned, and brought to fruition Mason’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, known as CPIP, drawing on his expertise as a former CEO of a technology company specializing in combating cyber-fraud.
Before returning to private practice, Rich taught legal writing and analysis and an advanced litigation seminar. In 2014 he was elected by the graduating class as the faculty speaker at their graduation.
He is a regular commentator on legal and political issues in print, radio and on TV. Rich has appeared on hundreds of stations as a legal expert or political commentator. He provided the legal analysis for all stages of the Bob McDonnell trial and appeal for numerous outlets including NPR and WMAL.
Rich also writes on occasion for the American Spectator and CNSNews.com.
In his free time, Rich is part of the baseball mafia of Northern Virginia, serving on numerous boards and as a little league and travel baseball coach.
His Twitter handle is @richkelsey.