Ladies and gentlemen, no one comprehends the challenges and perils of the prospect of courageous action better than you. In your youthful imaginations you have all believed that you would be the gallant speakers of brave truths against a tyrannical consensus. Given the opportunity you would have been the Nathan Hales, the Patrick Henrys, the Joans of Arc. History is not replete with such examples of outspoken courage for a reason, and today, you in your more mature years, now understand why.
But you also know who you are and where you came from. The ideals of your younger years have been systematically eroded by a slow compromise with pressures to conform to your Republican overlords – the RNC, the NRA, the many powerful corporate lobbyists. You find yourselves today occupying a moral low ground you would have never consciously consented to had it been offered to you all at once. These compromises of a virtue you once sacredly valued came slowly and in small increments, so slowly you almost didn’t notice.
Did you ever think you would find yourselves defending a scarcely literate man, a vulgar, awful, petty, small and vindictive little man, a man with no loyalty, a man with endlessly famished vanity, a traitor, a thief, a liar, a rapist, an ignoramus, this yellow haircut, this loser, this nothing, this – president? No. You know what he is and who he is, and however much you may proclaim in public in paeans only just minimally sufficiently zealous to deflect the angry attention of the Ogre of Tweets, you mutter among yourselves your actual, secret, bitter discontent.
I have no comfort to give you. History will not be kind to you – it never is; nor will history understand you – it never does. History will unflinchingly evaluate Donald Trump, not merely as the worst American president, but as the worst American president possible. And history will expect the valor of your resistance, the loud consistency of your dissenting voice, to be exactly equal in its magnificence to his awfulness. Nothing less will do.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have been given a rare chance. That chance will soon be gone and you will be consigned to the refuse heap of history. If you speak out now, long, loud and with unequivocal consistency against this tyrant in the Oval Office, you may just yet bequeath your children and grandchildren a legacy they will one day honor you for. The lawyer Joseph Welch ended the career of the malignancy that was Senator Joseph McCarthy with the words, “Have you no sense of decency?” More words may be required of you. But however many are required and in what combination, now is your chance – and possibly your last chance – to make America proud again.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.