Guest Column by Elliott Levitas

America is great — now.

America can become even greater when its citizens put our country above our party. We diminish our nation when we put our party ahead of our country. I can speak to this from my personal experience.

Former Congressman Elliott Levitas

Former Congressman Elliott Levitas

In 1966, while I was serving as a Democratic member of the Georgia House of Representatives, my party nominated a racist segregationist, Lester Maddox, as its candidate for governor. I knew the right thing to do was to put the interests of our state above my party, so I worked to elect the Republican nominee, Bo Callaway, instead of supporting the racist candidate of my party.

It troubles and saddens me to see too many Republicans putting their party above their country by supporting an unqualified and dangerous candidate solely because he is a Republican.

Normally I would not use disparaging labels even if they are factually true. But that seems to be the language that Donald Trump understands.

Trump likes to label people: “Lying Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Crooked Hillary,” “Pocahontas.” The factual label that applies to Trump is “vile.”

In this case that is not name-calling. It is a statement of fact. A dictionary definition of vile is “morally bad,” “extremely unpleasant,” “shameful” or “disgusting.”

A person who mocks a disabled individual is vile.

A person who demeans a true war hero is vile.

A person who attacks a woman’s judgment because of her menstrual cycle is vile.

Trump factually qualifies as vile on all three of these tests and many others.

America has elected some great presidents, some good ones and some not so good. We have even elected a few crooked presidents. But I cannot recall America electing a vile president.

We should not start with Trump. We should never let such a person sit in the same chair or have the same office as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy. In fact, most people do not want to associate with such a person.

Sometimes it takes time to see that a con man is selling snake oil, but once people spot this fraud, they reject the message and the messenger.

In the case of Trump, the situation is far worse because of the real danger posed by having someone with his erratic and volatile temperament near our atomic arsenal, much less having his finger on that nuclear trigger.

Trump’s irresponsible statements compound his unfitness. For example, people who are concerned about the security of Israel should be worried about Trump’s proclaimed “neutrality” when it comes to the conflict between Israel and those who want to see it wiped off the map.

Similarly, all of us should be worried about someone who wants to jeopardize our security by degrading NATO and proposing that Japan and South Korea get atomic weapons. The list of Trump’s unhinged remarks is both long and disturbing.

When it comes to credibility, even Trump himself cannot believe he will deport the 11 million people he talks about. Trump’s bluster may appeal to some people, but when they realize it is just snake oil, most will say, “I’ve been deceived by a politician again.”

Trump recently fired his campaign manager so that he could put on a more presidential false face. But the problem is not the campaign manager. The problem is Trump himself and whatever false image he adopts for the moment.

We now know him for what he is, whatever deceptive mask he puts on.

In short, Trump must be exposed and rejected by the vast majority of Americans — especially by principled Republicans, such as George Will, Brent Scowcroft and Henry Paulson, who, in this case and at this time, must put country above party.

America is great, and that is the way we can make it greater.

Elliott Levitas, who served 10 years as a Democratic congressman from Georgia, is of counsel at law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in Midtown. This column is a response to the pro-Trump column written by Bernie Marcus in the June 10 issue of the AJT.