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By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Ronald Reagan (Image source: Public domain)
Patti Davis, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan and former First Lady Nancy Reagan, is tired of having her dad's name dragged into the mud when mentioned in the same sentence as Donald Trump.
More to the point, she wrote an open letter to the GOP for The Washington Post entitled, "Dear Republicans: Stop Using My Father, Ronald Reagan, to Justify Your Silence on Trump."
The politics here should be noted. Davis has always been an activist and critical of the Republican Party, including the eight years her father was the president of the United States. She followed her father into acting before she became a writer of novels and autobiographies. She also appeared in Playboy.
Her father started out as a Democrat, as she mentions in her open letter. She notes she was a 10-year-old girl when he switched allegiances and became a Republican.
It was an unwelcome change for her, as while she "wanted to talk about my science project on the human heart or the mean girls at school who teased me for being too tall and for wearing glasses," they talked at the dinner table about Republicans instead.
In other words, she knows very well what the Republicans are about despite not leaning that way politically. Of course, perhaps the dinner table conversation is precisely the reason why she does not count herself as a Republican.
Reagan was an actor for much of his life and was elected twice as president of the Screen Actors Guild union. He became conservative and a Republican in 1962 and was elected governor of California four years later, then reelected in 1970. It was in those years as governor that Davis remembers their dinner conversations being about high taxes and not letting the government get too big.
Six years after leaving office he was inaugurated as the 40th president of the United States and was reelected in 1984.
At the age of 83 in 1994 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Some people believe he went through the beginning stages of it while he was still president. He died of pneumonia 10 years later in 2004.
Davis doesn't completely blame the Republicans for taking up so much of her father's time, as she recognizes that his "passion for America, his commitment to try to make a difference in the country and the world, and his gentle yet powerful command over crowds that gathered to hear him speak made his ascent to the presidency all but inevitable."
She also recognizes that this was Reagan's legacy. The Republicans "exalted him as an icon of conservatism and used the quotes of his that serve your purpose at any given moment."
However, she doesn't feel they are treating his legacy well, as she also recognizes that at this point in "America's history when the democracy to which my father pledged himself and the Constitution that he swore to uphold, and did faithfully uphold, are being degraded and chipped away at by a sneering, irreverent man who traffics in bullying and dishonesty, you stay silent."
It's this that makes this Democrat upset. While she doesn't agree with GOP politics, despite her father's history, she feels that his legacy is being tarnished by his fellow Republicans being silent and letting it happen.
She notes the GOP stays silent when Trump talks about immigrants "as if they are trash, rips children from the arms of their parents, and puts them in cages." She reminds them that her father had said that America was home "for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness."
Additionally, they stayed quiet when it came to issues with Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian president Vladimir Putin and when Trump took their word over that of his own security experts.
They "stood mutely by" when his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said there wasn't anything wrong with "getting information from Russians." And they also "do not act when Trump openly defies legitimate requests from Congress."
But what Reagan's daughter finds "most egregious" is that Republicans remained silent when Trump said the white supremacists were "very fine people" when chanting, "Jews will not replace us."
She recognizes that "our democracy is in trouble" and wonders why the Republicans elected to office aren't saying or doing anything and wonders if they are afraid of Trump. She points out they're adults and shouldn't be afraid of his name-calling.
While Reagan called America "the shining city on a hill," she thinks Trump sees it as just another of his possessions to put his name on. He's supposed to serve the American people, not own the country.
Davis believes Trump "has been wounding our democracy for the past two years," and that if he is reelected, the country won't survive, "at least not as the country the Founding Fathers envisioned."
She remembers her father saying that "freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
Winding up her open letter to Republicans, Davis tells them that if they are going to stand by silently while "America is dismantled and dismembered, as democracy is thrown into the ash heap of yesterday, shame on you. But don't use my father's name on the way down."
While there are most assuredly Democrats who disagree with Reagan's politics, perhaps they can see that Trump's politics are far and away from Reagan's, and hopefully, Republicans will recognize that by staying silent while Reagan's name is invoked during Trump's outrageous behavior, that it's tarnishing that legacy.
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