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My Point of View: What Trump really values is both power and control

My Point of View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

When Trump shows you who he is, believe him.

Last Wednesday, Trump whipped thousands into a frenzied horde with baseless, self-serving lies. He made veiled threats to Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi and any Republican who showed “weakness.” He incited the crowd, in view of the Capitol, to march up the hill and demand that Congress and Pence refuse to certify Biden’s legitimate electoral victory.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

The entire world saw what happened next. Trump’s supporters did his bidding and broke through security barriers and police lines and stormed the Capitol. Guards whisked elected leaders to safe rooms with only minutes to spare.

Trump supporters fatally wounded one police officer and injured dozens of others. Horrific video shows a crowd with Trump flags and MAGA hats outside the Capitol drag an unconscious police officer down a number of steps and beat him, including with a wooden pole bearing an American flag.

At least five people died as a result of the insurrection.

Brad Rukstales, a CEO (now fired) who took part in terrorizing the Capitol, later told a reporter, “It was the single worst decision of my life; I have no excuse for my actions and wish that I could take them back.”

Hundreds of rioters like Rukstales are facing legal and professional consequences for their actions. The people who are most responsible for this egregious attack on our constitutional order, though, are Trump and his enablers in Congress.

Despite the clear danger Trump poses, and while Officer Sicknick was still on life support, Congressman Hagedorn doubled down on his support for Trump’s election lies and voted against certification.

Hagedorn is loyal to a con, not our country.

From their actions, it’s clear the phrase “law and order” is a political gimmick to both Trump and Hagedorn, just as they give lip service to our veterans while personally attacking those who don’t agree with them. Never forget that Hagedorn snidely labeled the late Sen. Max Cleland, a triple-amputee from the Vietnam War, a “half soldier.”

What Trump really values is “power and control.” Hagedorn is his obedient toady.

Hagedorn’s protege in Freeborn County, Aaron Farris, is learning the GOP’s rhetorical playbook well. As the GOP would like our country to move on and not hold Trump accountable, Farris would like the DFL to overlook his distortions and libel at home.

In a letter to the editor last week, Farris chopped up Ted Hinnekamp’s quote to distort its meaning. Here is what Hinnenkamp actually wrote:

“Let’s say a young man GOP conservative tells the class that he cannot wait until he is very rich so that he can grab any woman by her crotch, date porn stars and playmate bunnies. The GOP leadership believes that talk in the classroom is OK? Too strong? That is their GOP leader. For children to follow?”

Hinnenkamp’s hypothetical refers directly to Trump’s odious behavior, and Farris deceitfully twisted his meaning. It’s obvious Hinnenkamp does not accuse Farris of sexual assault (nor suggest that he’s dating porn stars or Playboy bunnies). Farris still owes Hinnenkamp and the DFL an apology for his false accusation.

Farris is also mistaken about my previous suspension. The requirement for local content was a pretext for suspending me — the Tribune had not given me those rules before it suspended me, nor does it have any documentation of doing so.

The Tribune had received numerous complaints from local conservatives about my columns, and they threatened to pull their subscriptions. I have the email from one couple who had donated hundreds of dollars to Peggy Bennett’s campaign. Dan Dorman later told me, “My recommendation to the Republican Party in Freeborn County was to keep you in the paper as much as possible.”

Thus, it appears to have been a coordinated political effort to silence me.

In a third slip, Farris was paid by Hagedorn’s campaign for “campaign consulting” during periods that overlapped with his columns praising Hagedorn or criticizing Dan Feehan. Last year, FEC records show the Hagedorn campaign paid Farris $9,000, including a payment of $2,000 on the same date that his enthusiastic column about Hagedorn’s victory appeared in the paper. Ethically, Farris should have been upfront with the Tribune’s readers about this financial relationship.

Since Farris has now come of age, future ethical lapses are important to avoid. Being held accountable by the opposition now is in the interests of his long-term aspirations. Honesty and integrity in politics is essential to the functioning of our democracy. Fight hard, but fight fair.

Meanwhile, the wider GOP has devolved into cheering or fearing the Trump mob. In the words of Angie Hoffman, “Walk away.”

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.