Don’t waste your time engaging with Trump supporters; take ’em on at the polls

By Rich Heiland, Columnist, The Times

After Donald Trump’s latest horrific, anti-democracy, insulting comments, anyone who still supports him is not worth engaging with…

But, they are worth taking on at the polls. Trump and his followers have removed any doubt about who they are and what they want, and it’s not a democratic republic. Far from it.

WE LIVE IN a time when up is down; the sun rises in the west, sets in the east; rivers run uphill and ignorance and raw stupidity are seen as virtues.

Just this past weekend a former president of the United States, one Donald J. Trump, stood up in front of a crowd in South Carolina and said:

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?,’” Trump said during a rally at Coastal Carolina University. “I said, ‘You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

And, the crowd cheered!

This former president then attacked his lone Republican primary rival, former SC Governor Nikki Haley, for not having her husband on the campaign trail with her, as if that somehow was a requirement for a candidate.

“Where’s her husband? Oh, he’s away,” Trump said. “He’s gone. He knew, he knew.”

Well, knew what, one wonders, but the fact is Maj. Michael Haley is deployed with the South Carolina National Guard in Africa. Nikki Haley fired back.

“I’ll say this: Donald, if you have something to say, don’t say it behind my back. Get on a debate stage and say it to my face,” Haley said. “If you mock the service of a combat veteran, you don’t deserve a driver’s license, let alone to be president of the United States.”

Michael Haley himself weighed in with a Twitter (X) post: “The difference between humans and animals? Animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack.” OUCH!

Nikki Haley might well have asked where Trump’s wife, Melania has been but of course, that sort of obvious contradiction would never occur to The Donald.

I HAVE BEEN around a while. Seventy-seven years in fact. Never in my life have I heard a president, former president or candidate for president say anything like Trump has said. Remember, he dissed the late U.S.Sen. John McCain, saying he was not a hero because he was captured.

Trump also declined, while in office, to visit military cemeteries in France because it was raining, and hospital wards filled with wounded veterans because he has a long history of being repulsed by anyone who has any sort of affliction or handicap.

But, in addition to his recent NATO comments Trump has made comments that provide all the evidence any sane, freedom-loving voter would need to turn and run from this living, breathing embodiment of evil.

The Guardian recently published a list of the “10 worst things former president said” in 2023 alone. It was based on work by Mike Godwin, a lawyer and author, who has written and commented on how Trump’s comments parallel Hitler and other Fascists. Here is the Guardian’s recounting of why Trump brings to mind Hitler:


“In November, in Claremont, New Hampshire, Trump continued his dominant primary campaign. His rant was familiar but it held something new:

“’We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.’

Hillary Clinton, who Trump beat in 2016, had already likened him to Hitler. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian from New York University, told the Washington Post: ‘Calling people ‘vermin’ was used effectively by Hitler and Mussolini to dehumanize people and encourage their followers to engage in violence.’”


“Of course, the signs were already there. In September, discussing immigration with the National Pulse, Trump said:

“’Nobody has ever seen anything like we’re witnessing right now … It’s poisoning the blood of our country.’

“He had already promised ‘the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.’ Plans to hold migrants in camps would be reported. But Mehdi Hasan of MSNBC summed up the ‘poisoning’ comment as ‘a straight-up white supremacist/neo-Nazi talking point. Trump went there again in December, too.’”


“Trump wasn’t done. In December, at an Iowa town hall, the Fox News host Sean Hannity asked if he would promise not to ‘abuse power as retribution against anybody.’ Trump said: ‘Except for day one”,’then explained: ‘I love this guy. He says, ‘You’re not gonna be a dictator, are you?’ I say, ‘No, no, no – other than day one.’ We’re closing the border. And we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that I’m not a dictator, OK?’


“No one could say such comments were surprising. In March, closing CPAC in Maryland, Trump told conservatives:

‘In 2016, I declared: I am your voice. Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed: I am your retribution.’ Jonathan Karl of ABC would report that the Trump strategist Steve Bannon said Trump was speaking in code, referring to a Confederate plot to take hostage – and eventually kill – President Abraham Lincoln.’”


“In September, the Atlantic profiled Mark Milley, then chair of the joint chiefs of staff. Milley’s work to contain Trump at the end of his presidency was already widely known but the profile set Trump off nonetheless. On Truth Social, referring to a call in which Milley assured Chinese officials he would guard against any attempted attack, Trump lamented it was ‘ …… an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!’ Milley was moved to take “appropriate measures to ensure my safety and the safety of my family.”

AS THE SUPREME Court considers whether Colorado can invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bars an insurrectionist or someone who gave “aid and comfort” to an enemy, from the Constitution, it seems logical to point out that beyond Jan. 6, 2021, Trump has given, and continues to give, aid and comfort to our enemies.

Despite all this he remains strong in the polls and unless he is convicted of a felony prior to August’s Republican Convention, he will be the nominee. Polls, if you want to believe them this far out, show him beating President Joe Biden.

Which leads me back to my opening lines about up being down and the sun rising in the west, and so on. Those who continue to follow Trump are beyond hope. They are either true anti-democracy crazies, brain-dead stupid or delusional. Some no doubt are all three.

That’s why I am ignoring friends who keep telling me how we need to talk to them, reason with them. Reason with them? Seriously?

No. From this point on I do not want to be with 10 feet of a Trump supporter. Maybe a mile. I don’t want to engage. We have nothing to talk about. What I will do is put whatever energy I have into working with others to try and keep this plague, this ghost of all previous evil in the world, out of the White House. And, to keep his followers out of any elected office in the land.

It’s not just about democracy. It’s also about common decency.

Rich Heiland, has been a reporter, editor, publisher/general manager at daily papers in Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and New Hampshire. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Xenia Daily (OH) Daily Gazette, a National Newspaper Association Columnist of the Year, and a recipient of the Molly Ivins First Amendment Award from the Walker County (TX) Democrat Club. He taught journalism at Western Illinois University and leadership and community development at Woodbury College in Vermont.  Since 1995 he has operated an international consulting, public speaking and training business specializing in customer service, general management, leadership and staff development with major corporations, organizations, and government. Semi-retired, he and his wife live in West Chester, PA. He can be reached at



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