A little more than four years ago, The Times-Gazette was one of a handful of newspapers across the country that endorsed Donald Trump in his run to become the next president of the United States. At the time, I thought it was a prudent decision. And for a while it brought this newspaper much acclaim.
The United Kingdom’s BBC Radio came to Hillsboro and did a live broadcast from The Times-Gazette offices, interviewing many of us. Numerous representatives from multiple media outlets from Japan also visited our offices, trying to get a feel for why so many in the Midwest firmly supported Trump. “Fox and Friends” came to Hillsboro and broadcast a show from Momma’s West Main Café. At least partly because of the endorsement, the paper’s editor at the time was asked to start writing a column for The Washington Post, and he still does.
The list goes on and on, but you get the picture. We were proud of the attention.
But hopefully, we learn as we travel along life’s path, and now I have a completely different opinion of that endorsement four years ago.
For a long time I was able ignore the president’s nonsensical and continuous Tweets. I suppose I figured it was a trade off for some of the good things he was doing around the world. But the more he Tweeted, the more I began to see a side I did not like — a childish side, akin to a spoiled brat that lacks any ability to weigh opposing opinions — and it was hard to comprehend such banter coming from the President of the United States.
Then came this year’s first presidential debate. I was appalled by Trump’s behavior on national television.
The icing on the cake came Wednesday when Trump supporters, incited by the president’s own words, stormed the U.S. Capitol Building. I saw many sickening sights this summer as others protested against the Trump administration, but I have never witnessed anything like what I saw from the nation’s capitol Wednesday.
For a moment — because I am opposed to the Democrats’ liberal-leaning policies — I thought that in some ways it was good to see the other side (a radical Republican side I wanted no part of) make a stand. But then the more thoughtful part of my brain took control, and I could not believe what I was witnessing — people climbing the walls of the Capitol, busting out windows, storming inside, ransacking the hallowed halls and offices, and sending politicians from all sides running for their lives.
“Is this what our country has become,” I wondered? “Have we lost all sense of self-control?”
Obviously, many have.
There is blame to be laid on both sides of the political aisle. I will not go into details because you already know them, and the last thing I want to do is incite anyone further. But if you are open-minded, you surely see that both sides have erred.
Still, no one has ever crossed a bridge like Trump’s radical supporters did Wednesday. They embarrassed the United States of America, cost people their lives, and they should be prosecuted for it. Trump coaxed them along, and he should be held accountable, too.
So, to everyone reading these words, this is a plea asking you to do better. Quit trashing other people’s political opinions on social media. Be more open-minded. Stand up for your beliefs, but choose your words carefully. And if you don’t have something good to say, maybe you should keep your thoughts to yourself.
Our future lies in our hands. I believe we can do better. We must do better. Our country depends on it, and the world is watching.
I hope it soon sees that we can rise above Wednesday’s ashes and return to what we have always claimed to be — One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.