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None dare call it treason 

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson was elected with 61 perccent of the vote—the largest share of the nation's vote since 1820.

That same year, however, saw publication of None Dare Call It Treason, by John Stormer, a far-right flamethrower who claimed that America was losing the Cold War, betrayed by pro-communist elites. Stormer was a Goldwater delegate to the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco. He was a leader of the John Birch Society, and for six decades thereafter a leading "Christian nationalist." In books, speeches, and sermons, Stormer denounced the liberal consensus championed by Democrats. He urged the destruction of public education, labor unions, and secular government in general.

I cite this book not because I want anyone to read it: Virtually all Stormer's work has been discredited by legitimate scholars. I cite it only because that title accurately describes the current Republican campaign for the White House.

Even when Donald Trump announced his first campaign for the presidency in 2015, he complained that our nation was threatened by an insidious "invasion" of immigrants composed of "criminals, drug dealers, rapists ... " More recently, he claims that immigrants are "poisoning the blood of our nation."

Yet just last February, Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the plug on a bipartisan border security bill, a measure negotiated with and supported by key GOP senators. By these actions, Trump has forced the nation to endure a continuing national security crisis at the border.

To me, and to anyone genuinely concerned about the security of our borders, Trump's action amounts to a treasonous dereliction of responsibility. He demanded that Republicans in Congress sit on their hands, keeping immigration issues alive for his flagellations throughout the 2024 campaign.

I don't use the term "treason" lightly: If the conditions at the border are as bad as Trump makes them out to be, our nation faces a serious threat. To hear him tell it, immigrants imperil our economy, our neighborhoods, our safety—our very identity as a white, Christian nation filled with hard-working people who settled this land and made our once-great nation what it is today. (Hint: I don't subscribe to this point of view, and neither should you).

There is clear precedent to the duplicitous treason of Donald Trump as he sinks all attempts to resolve the border "crisis," stoking the flames of his GOP base with frightening images of an "invasion" at the border. That precedent: Richard Nixon.

Four years after his triumphant election in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson ended his campaign for a second full term after a poor showing in the New Hampshire Primary: With less than 50 percent of Democratic voters, LBJ had to concede that his own party opposed his escalation in Vietnam.

In ending his campaign, LBJ pledged to focus his full attention on negotiating an honorable end to the Vietnam conflict. The Paris peace talks, however, faced a concerted effort to halt any progress on peace by Richard Nixon, the Republican candidate in the 1968 election.

Using a "back-channel" involving a Chinese-American woman, Claire Anne Chennault, Nixon actively undermined U.S. efforts to work with peace negotiators from both North and South Vietnam in Paris. Nixon's malevolent behind-the-scenes effort to extend the Vietnam War only recently came to light, collectively known today as the "Chennault Affair."

By October 1968, LBJ had secretly offered to cease U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. With increased pressure from the Soviets to end the war, conditions for an end to hostilities were never better. Through Mrs. Chennault, however, Nixon's henchmen sent word to South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu: If Thieu simply boycotted the Paris peace talks, a future President Nixon would cut a better deal for the South than any offered by LBJ.

By late 1968, the war had already cost more than 30,000 American lives. Navy pilot John McCain was already sitting in the "Hanoi Hilton" along with dozens—ultimately almost 600—of American POWs.

Nixon's secret efforts to freeze the Paris peace negotiations had the desired result: LBJ couldn't get an agreement prior to the election. In a three-way contest featuring the "spoiler" segregationist George Wallace, Nixon prevailed over Vice President Hubert Humphrey with a margin of less than 1 percent in the popular vote.

Under Nixon, the Vietnam War dragged on for five more years, taking the lives of another 25,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese. Could LBJ have negotiated an honorable peace in the last months of his administration? We'll never know. ... We do know that Nixon escalated the war even into Cambodia to bring North Vietnam back to the negotiating table.

Is Donald Trump's treason in 2024 on the same level of iniquity as that of Richard Nixon in 1968? If you believe Trump's depiction of "illegal aliens" as the threat to our national security that he claims, then surely it does.

Let's review a sampling of other indicators of Trump's treasonous abandonment of America's best interests: Consider his cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin of Russia, his willingness to abandon the 75-year NATO alliance, and his shocking embrace of murderous dictators throughout the world (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Hungary ...).

Perhaps Donald Trump is unaware of how his entire campaign is compounding the national security threats facing this nation and our allies. When it comes to the border, however, we should never accept his ignominious—nay, treasonous—attempt to abort all reasonable efforts to resolve the "crisis." Δ

John Ashbaugh prefers that a presidential candidate never resort to treason to win. Contact him through the editor at [email protected].

Readers Poll

Do you think the SLO County Board of Supervisors should have gone against their policy that states funding for independent special districts should not result in a net fiscal loss to the county?

  • A. Yes, the housing and job opportunity the Dana Reserve is bringing is important
  • B. No, it's giving special privileges to the Nipomo Community Services District
  • C. I trust them, they know what's best for the county
  • D. What's going on?

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