The spectacle we’re witnessing in Donald Trump’s continued crackdown against American citizens lawfully protesting in the streets of Portland (and previously in Washington, D.C.) in contrast to the life of John Lewis, a civil rights icon and defender of the rights of all men and women, currently being honored could not be more telling or glaring. Nor an alarm to all as to what awaits us if Donald Trump is reelected. On the one hand, we are celebrating the life of a man who put his entire life on the line in order to realize for all the ideals of our democratic republic. On the other, we are witnessing Trump’s defilement of our constitutional rights of assembly and free speech, as well as of our protections against unlawful arrest and detention. In short, we are seeing yet again, in real time, the lengths to which this president will go to eliminate whatever he perceives to stand in the way of his being reelected or his personal aggrandizement. We saw (still see) it at the border in the way he inhumanely treates the disadvantaged who are seeking asylum in the U.S.; we see it now in his incitement of mayhem and violence through his deployment of federalized camouflage-garbed thugs wielding military-grade weaponry and using tear gas against fellow Americans. In a word, he behaves as a dictator intent on obliterating all norms of responsible governance, including the very foundations upon which our country was built — who, in the process, defies common decency, distorts reality, and blatantly lies on virtually any matter of consequence. By fomenting chaos and violence in the streets of an American city, as he is doing, he gives added and frightful meaning to the insufferable, irresponsible behavior he has displayed for nearly four years now. He is a disgrace to the United States of America, a scourge upon the principles grounded in our country’s very foundations, and therefore completely unworthy of his office. His behavior should be scaring the hell out of every American. It places our democratic republic in jeopardy.
• Richard Hebhardt is a retired Alaska school district superintendent and educator for more than 40 years. He has resided in Juneau since 2004.