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Letter to Nikki Haley, Republican Leadership Institute, Revised and Updated

March 11, 2020

Ambassador Nikki Haley
c/o The Leadership Institute
1101 N. Highland Street
Arlington. VA 22201

Re: Contribution to the (Republican) Leadership Institute

Dear Madam Ambassador:

I have received your letter regarding a contribution to something called the Leadership Institute. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a Republican for more than half of my voting life. My first vote was for Barry Goldwater and thereafter I voted for every Republican all the way through to Bob Dole in 1996. Thereafter, beginning with George W. Bush I didn’t like the direction the party was taking so I registered as an Independent. That takes us up to Donald J. Trump, who was elected by the anachronistic Electoral College in 2018, but lost the popular vote.

Given his performance over the last three plus years, along with the recent developments involving his abuse of power, his violations of the Constitution, his failing to respect the rule of law, and his coverup related to his impeachment, among other things, I urge you and your colleagues to bring as much pressure to bear as possible in an effort to get President Trump to resign at the earliest opportunity or work to keep him from being reelected.

Trump is clearly unfit for the job of president. To that point, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist #68:

“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue.”

A majority of voters, including thousands of Republicans, seem to agree that Trump is not exactly known to be “pre-eminent for ability and virtue.” And it’s obvious that he does not have “the esteem and confidence of the whole union.” After all, Hillary Clinton got the most votes in 2016. Furthermore, if you believe the polls, more than half of us have consistently disapproved of Trump’s performance in office.

The Republicans in Congress have repeatedly ducked their responsibility to the people in favor of their own party and deferred to a badly flawed president who obviously thinks the country is to serve him rather than the other way around.

The GOP needs to stop blaming the Democrats and make an honest assessment of itself; an introspection if you will. And it should start at the top because what the President does, as the titular head of the Party, sets the standard for its elected members. Here is a list of just some of the president’s immoral, illegal and unpatriotic behaviors that you and your political party witnessed but did nothing and said nothing about:

  1. You watched him mock a disabled man.
  2. You saw him spouting clear racism.
  3. You saw him demean a five-star family.
  4. You heard him asking Russia and China to interfere in our democracy.
  5. You don’t care that he did not call for an immediate investigation regarding Russia’s interference with the 2016 election
  6. You don’t care that he called the press an “enemy of the people.”
  7. You heard him advocate for war crimes.
  8. You saw him disrespect the constitutional rights of free speech.
  9. You’ve seen him unwilling to observe the Constitution and the rule of law, including obstruction of justice, denying due process, abusing his power, and committing High Crimes and Misdemeanors against the United States.
  10. You’ve seen his appointees destroy legal protections and loot the taxpayers money.
  11. You watched as he set immigration policies that resulted families being separated and innocent children locked in cages [which is also against international law.]
  12. You sat silent as he alienated our long standing allies.
  13. You refuse to accept that he lies daily and exaggerates to the point of absurdity.
  14. You have seen him display gross ignorance of American history and diplomacy.
  15. You apparently support his racism, sexism, misogyny, and his total lack of empathy and basic humanity.
  16. You don’t care that his incompetent leadership has lowered our standing in the world.
  17. You apparently don’t care that he calls his generals “a bunch of dopes and babies.”
  18. You’ve watched him dismiss the entire U.S. intelligence community in favor of a former Soviet Union KGB agent.
  19. You’ve watched as his lack of management skills has caused the morale of career government employees decline to the point where many are looking for other jobs, thereby depleting a valuable resource for all of us.
  20. You stand by while he directs the dismantling of environmental protection laws that serve to protect human health and the environment.
  21. You side with him against the international community’s efforts to deal with the effects of global warming and climate change, which are real and happening now.
  22. You see him deny science when he doesn’t agree with it
  23. You witness him ignoring, misrepresenting, and making up “alternative facts.”
  24. You don’t seem concerned that he rants incoherently at his rallies
  25. You stay silent when he intimidates witnesses and suborns perjury.
  26. You don’t seem to mind that he lacks common courtesy and civility.
  27. You continue to believe he is a great business man even though his companies filed for bankruptcy six times (according to Politifact) and have had more than 3,500 lawsuits filled against them.
  28. You were not concerned when he backed out of the agreement with Iran to stop production of plutonium used in nuclear weapons, thus allowed them to continue and thereby threaten the world.
  29. You don’t mind that he enriches himself and his family due to his position as president even though it violates the emoluments clauses in the Constitution.
  30. You apparently don’t care that he has violated his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
  31. You don’t seen to be bothered that he withheld military aid to bribe Ukraine unless their President provided information on a possible 2020 presidential opponent.
  32. You have ignored letters from retired generals, Secretaries of State, Homeland Security Secretaries, CIA directors, and others on both sides of the aisle giving their collective opinion that Trump is a treat to national security.
  33. You have done nothing to stop him from inciting violence and offering to pay legal expenses for those who would commit such assaults.
  34. You implicitly agree with his support for hate groups, including white supremacists, the KKK, the Neo-Nazis and their ilk.
  35. You supported his isolationist policies and did not object to him unilaterally withdrawing from international organizations and treaties and agreements including the UN Human Rights Council, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Arms Trade Treaty, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among others.
  36. You did nothing to stop the threats to election officials in numerous states, including threats to Secretaries of State and their families.
  37. You believed his lie that he won the 2020 election and refused to accept the truth as revealed in 60 court cases that he had lost.
  38. You refused to call out Fox News and other conservative media for perpetuating the Big Lie or members of your party including RudyGiuliani, SidneyPowell, and Mike Lindell.
  39. Your members in Congress violated their oath to the Constitution and the 200 year tradition of honoring the peaceful transfer of power.
  40. You made no effort to stop members of your party from attempting an insurrection of the government on January 6, 2021, including the threat to the life if vice president Pence, resulting in the death of five people.

I believe these charges are indefensible and illustrative of the president’s authoritarian behavior. And many in the GOP have become enablers of his dictatorial style and, to the extent they are more worried about their reelection than their oath of office, co-dependent as well.

On that point, I recommend John Dean’s 2006 book “Conservatives Without Conscience,” where he writes prophetically in the preface:

“Authoritarianism is not well understood and seldom discussed in the contest of government and politics, yet it now constitutes the prevailing thinking and behavior among conservatives. Regrettably, empirical studies reveal that authoritarians are frequently enemies of freedom, anti-democratic, anti-equality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian and amoral. They are also often conservatives without conscience who are capable of plunging this nation into disasters the like of which we have never known.”

To that point, Hannah Arendt, in her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951 writes:

“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”

Indeed, it seems that the President and his acolytes have followed a maxim of Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels who said:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Fortunately, many in the GOP have recognized these treats to our republic. In fact, many current and apostate Republicans have established organizations to help members of the party return to their roots. Republicans George T. Conway III, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson have created the Lincoln Project specifically to defeat Trump in the coming election. There is also a Facebook page called Republicans Against Trump. Then there is The Action Network’s Americans Against Trump and the Never Trump Movement, which includes Our Principles PAC and Club for Growth; the latter having spent $11 million in an effort to prevent Trump from becoming the Republican Party’s nominee in 2016. These organizations are peopled with those who have the backbones and the courage to stand up to the President that the Republicans in Congress don’t have.

I sincerely hope that your “Leadership Institute” joins with these groups to help oust a dangerous and traitoress President. That might help get back the moral compass that the GOP has clearly lost. If the Institute sets that as its mission, then I believe it will be a success. But if the goal is to turn out more Trump-like Conservatives, then it will surely fail. Of course, the lesson in leadership is relatively simple: See what Trump does and then do the opposite.

If you and your fellow Conservatives continue down the path you’ve chosen, you run the risk of putting this Republic in the dustbin of history.

Collectively, you and your GOP fellows have abandoned first principles and the Constitution and given your allegiance to a man who is a petty, paranoid, Machiavellian, immoral, ignorant, delusional, arrogant, incompetent, mendacious, cruel, childish, mean, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic. vindictive, immature, condescending, cold-hearted, psychotic narcissist.

You need to quit blaming the Democrats for your party’s problems. Stop inventing liberal “mobs” as a strawman argument to deflect your own party’s shortcomings. Put on your big girl pants and get busy. The sooner the Grand Old Party gets its act together, the better our democracy will be.


Herb Van Fleet

cc: Senator Jim Inhofe
Senator James Langford
Representative Kevin Hern
The Lincoln Project


Addendum: Letter to the Editor, Tulsa World, sent February 5, 2023, unpublished

The Nation’s Nightmare

On October 17, 1974, President Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon and said that America’s “long national nightmare” was over.

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president and a new national nightmare began.

Trump’s malfeasance in office is well documented. His legal troubles, both civil and criminal, continue with no end in sight. His impact on politics and democracy itself has been transformative. His influence on the Republican Party has cost many of its members their connection to Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan. They have disrespected the constitution itself. And the party may never recover.

If Trump had acted like a true patriot, he would have accepted Biden’s win as president, there wouldn’t have been a January 6th insurrection or sixty court cases proving that he had lied. The Republicans might have even gotten more members in the House and perhaps control of the Senate in the 2022 election were it not for the former president.

The fiasco of electing Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House of Representatives for the new 118th Congress continues the nightmare. The repeated voting time after time for him and expecting different results every time is the very definition of insanity.

The issue, then, is whether the nation’s nightmare will get worse over the next two years.


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