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OPINION

Trump and the flag of treason

The Lincoln Project cofounder says we cannot be both a great America and a Trump America. This is a time for choosing: America or Trump.

In August 2017, a Trump flag flew below the Confederate flag at Earhart Campground, a private campground adjacent to the Bristol Motor Speedway, in Bristol, Tenn.
In August 2017, a Trump flag flew below the Confederate flag at Earhart Campground, a private campground adjacent to the Bristol Motor Speedway, in Bristol, Tenn.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Throughout the history of our great country, the American people have many times been confronted with a choice; historic moments when the survival of the American idea — the unique belief in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all — was in peril. In every case, by the united dedication and sacrifice of We the People, our nation survived.

The birth of our Republic came from just such a moment, when colonists joined forces against the British Crown’s attempts to rule over the people with an iron fist and heavy taxes. Unwilling to be beholden to a monarch half a world away, the American Revolution led to the founding of a free nation, directed by a free people — though it was not free for all.

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Perhaps the most fateful moment of choosing in our nation’s history was in confronting the treasonous deeds of the Confederacy, when members attempted to divide and destroy the nation by endeavoring to preserve slavery over freedom and servitude over liberty for all. The stain of slavery is woven into the fabric of our nation, and the shame of the Confederate efforts will remain forever in our history books.

To this day, the Confederate flag stands as a symbol of hate, division, and white supremacy, an ugly reminder of the most dishonorable chapter in the American story.

It is also a flag supporters of this president feel comfortable displaying and one he’s been accused of defending. Throughout his three and a half years in office, the president has stoked racial division in our country and fueled the hateful rhetoric and actions of some of his supporters in a despicable manner.

In 2017, he suggested moral equivalence between white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Va., and those who opposed them, declaring there were “very fine people, on both sides.” The president invoked bigotry when he called the constitutional process of impeachment a “lynching.” He has retweeted white power videos and white nationalist symbols, called nations with primarily Black populations “shithole countries,” and attacked women of color serving in Congress.

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He has refused even to consider removing the names of Confederate leaders from our military bases, and over and over again he has cheered on MAGA hat-wearing supporters who wave the Confederate flag at his campaign rallies. Whether at rallies or at the White House, Donald Trump has refused to condemn the Confederate flag, the bigotry it evokes, or the systemic racism that undermines the great American experiment even today. Instead, he will stoke the flames of racial unrest, deepen the divides that already exist, and advance a campaign rooted in hatred, anger, and fear. In doing so he threatens, as others before him have done, the preservation of the American ideal. His bigotry and hateful rhetoric threaten the very foundation on which freedom is built. A president who defends the Confederacy over the Constitution, who chooses to divide rather than unite and uses the fears and phobias of some people as a weapon against others, cannot lead a nation to the greatness we seek.

This is our moment to set aside our differences and unite as a people to defend the founding principles of our nation, to safeguard the pillars of liberty on which America was built. We cannot be both a great America and a Trump America.

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Let this moment be our inspiration to join together in opposition to the forces that have tried so many times in the past to destroy what is right and decent about our country. Freedom has no greater foe than the silence of otherwise good people.

This is our time for choosing. Let us not be silent now.

Jennifer Horn is a cofounder of the Lincoln Project. She served as chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party from 2013 to 2017. Follow her on Twitter @nhjennifer.