America once used the words “treason” and “traitors” only in cases of actual betrayal of our nation’s most vital secrets or interests. They were profound words, deep with meaning, grim in import, carrying with them the knowledge that the penalty for treason was death.
Be honest: The words “traitor” and “treason” don’t have the sting they once had; they’ve been devalued from mis- and over-use by this president. For Donald Trump, any opposition, either personal, ideological, or political is treason. Anyone who stands in his path betrays the Great Leader. Anyone who fails to take the knee is a traitor.
Like hearing an insult too many times drains it of its potency, Trump has diluted the power of that approbation. He has labeled loyal, dedicated Americans who served this country in the military and law enforcement as traitors, so much so that we could almost give in to the temptation to excuse it as “Trump being Trump” and let it slide like any of the other insults he vomits forth on the daily.
Which is a shame, because America is in the midst of a treason boom right now, and more than a few people in Trump’s immediate orbit — and Trump himself — richly and actually deserve the title of traitor, and the treason inherent in their acts and words is apparent.
Traitors from Benedict Arnold to Klaus Fuchs to Aldrich Ames to Robert Hanssen sold out this country for a host of reasons, all explicable and unforgivable. The intelligence community even has a handy acronym for the motivations of traitors, and one that applies readily to known cases. The acronym is MICE: Money, Ideology, Compromise, and Ego. Pick a traitor and one of those reasons will underpin their betrayal.
Add a new one to the acronym. Call it, MICE-T, with the “T” naturally standing for Trump.
Their treason isn’t executed in the old ways of secret meetings, furtive brush passes, or encrypted messages. No, the traitors of today show us their cards on cable TV, laughing and giggling over their betrayal of the oath they swore, and the security of this country, all for the political service of Donald Trump.
As the impeachment hearings have worn on and as evidence of the complete moral collapse of the Republican Party has become more and more evident, it has become quite obvious there really are traitors among us. There are elected officials who have made the decision to protect a corrupt president by embracing conspiracy theories, refusing to acknowledge sworn testimony of career foreign-service officials, and piling on to Trump’s attack of democratic institutions.
The traitors deliberately ignore the reporting, counsel, and warnings of the intelligence community when it comes to Russia’s attacks and Vladimir Putin’s vast, continuing intelligence and propaganda warfare against the United States.
The traitors — be they United States senators like John Kennedy and Lindsey Graham or columnists from the Federalist, Breitbart, and a slurry of other formally conservative media outlets — repeat the Kremlin-approved propaganda messages and tropes of that warfare, word for word.
It’s not simply treason by making common cause with a murderous autocrat in Russia, or merrily wrecking the alliances around the world that kept America relatively secure for seven decades.
Their betrayal is also to our system of government, which as imperfect — and often downright fucked up — as it is, has been remarkably capable of surviving.
The traitors talk a good game, hands over their withered hearts, about supporting the Constitution, but they’re happy to ignore it when it suits their purposes.
The traitors believe the executive branch is superior to all others and unaccountable under the law. Traitors believe the “fuck you, pay me” ethos of this president and this White House isn’t an open door to a pay-to-play political culture in Washington where everyone and everything in our government is for sale.
They defend the White House’s indefensible position of stonewalling, silencing witnesses, and refusing to testify before Congress.
Traitors keep racial arsonists like Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon in their orbit and employment. They pretend these men are selling populism and nationalism when in fact it’s just the same weaponized racism that worked so well for them in 2016.
The traitors will sit in Congressional hearings on impeachment knowing the truth about Trump’s extortion racket and of the grubby, sleazy plan Trump sent Gordon Sondland, Rudy Giuliani, et al to carry out, and tell lie after lie, the bigger the better.
The traitors cheer when Trump rides roughshod over the military chain of command and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, freeing men who killed civilians, abused and violated the warrior ethos, and broke the very laws of war they swore to uphold. They’ve gone from respecting hard men carrying out tough missions to fetishizing the outliers, edge cases, and the war criminals.
You can spot the traitors simply by watching their television shows, as they look you in the eye and tell you to your face they side with Russia. Tucker Carlson wasn’t winking and nodding to the camera; it was where he’s landed politically — a pro-Putin shill on a network that looks away from their pet president’s grotesque subservience to the Russian leader who helped elect him.
The traitors are ass-deep in oligarchs, eagerly selling access to the president, the secretary of state, the attorney general, and of course, the president’s venal pack of lucky-sperm-club spawn.
And if you can’t spot the treason yet, you will soon enough. That’s the thing about spies, traitors, and those who betray their country — they rarely stay hidden forever.
The traitors are the ones who, when this is all done and dusted, will sit in the dock at some new Nuremberg trial and claim their innocence of the worst charges and penalties not by claiming their actions were “just following orders” but that they were “just following Trump.”
Rick Wilson is a GOP political strategist and author of the forthcoming book “Running Against the Devil: The Plot to Save America From Trump — and Democrats From Themselves.”