Reading Peder Zane’s defense of Donald Trump this morning in the N&O is disheartening. But after what the North Carolina legislature has done to our state, we should be used to it. Once conventional Republicans ignore unconventional and damaging behavior in exchange for tax breaks, less regulation and goodies like school vouchers.

Zane gives Trump credit for the economy, defeating ISIS and ending burdensome regulations. He even calls Trump an “honest broker,” despite lots of evidence to the contrary. While Trump might get credit for the economy and defeating ISIS, he had very little impact over either. The success of the economy is not a national phenomenon but a global one that began long before he was inaugurated. ISIS was defeated largely because Trump continued policies put in place by Obama long ago. He praises the end of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, claiming it will make insurance more affordable, while ignoring the reality that it will cost millions coverage and likely make premiums rise. But don’t let facts get in the way. Zane has a president and Congressional majority to protect.

The party that once told us character matters and demanded Bill Clinton be impeached because he lacked it, gladly accepts a president who brags about infidelity and pays off porn stars to hide affairs. The party that at one time advocated for transparency and accountability in government doesn’t care that the president never released his tax returns after promising to do so. That party that once claimed the mantle of family values watches dispassionately as ICE breaks up families with deportations of otherwise law abiding, taxpaying people.

As a son of the South, though, I believe the most egregious offense is Zane and his peers’ willingness to turn a blind eye toward racism. It’s always simmered under the surface, but Donald Trump has used it as a rallying cry to appeal to a portion of his base and he’s never backed off of it. Like the demagogues of the past who inflamed passions by warning of the dangers of marauding negroes, Trump equates Hispanic immigrants with gangs and violence. In fact, crimes by immigrants is low while crimes against them is high.

Some conservative pundits like Bill Kristol, David Frum, and Jennifer Rubin have remained steadfast in their criticism of Trump. They abhor the damage he’s doing to our institutions and the office of the presidency even if they might agree with some of his policies. Even though I disagree with them ideologically, I admire their courage and convictions.

Other pundits like Peder Zane and Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist join the likes of Steve Bannon, David Duke and Richard Spencer defending the president. Just like Trump can’t tell the difference between DREAMers and MS-13, I’m having a hard time telling much difference between them.

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