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This is What True Courage Looks Like, America

By Brian Byrd | Politics | October 8, 2016 |

By Brian Byrd | Politics | October 8, 2016 |

Americans often look to the past for inspiration. This is understandable. Our greatest heroes — Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Adams, Jefferson, Whitmore — lie interred beneath the earth. Leaders of their magnitude haven’t risen to fill the void left by their absence.

Yet unlikely heroes emerge from unforeseen places during moments of national crisis. Ordinary individuals who, when thrust into extraordinary circumstances, display bravery and character typically reserved for Arthurian legend. If there’s one positive by-product of Donald Trump’s historically embarrassing quest for the presidency, it’s that his rise created a new generation of American heroes. Patriots who, through sheer will and love for country, stand tall against the coming tide. Who refuse to go quietly into the night. Who can muster the fortitude to look disaster square in its Tang-dusted face and say, No more. Not on my watch. These supermen deserve our highest respect. Let us enshrine them for posterity.

Our first and perhaps greatest champion is Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House. When leaked audio revealed to the world that the man he endorsed for president and praised at his party’s convention is in fact a disgusting pervert who brags about sexual assault to tabloid reporters, Ryan didn’t dally. He acted. Boldly. Decisively. The leader of a party that works tirelessly to deny women rights and equal treatment under the law immediately released a stern four-sentence statement excoriating Trump’s comments. I refuse to appear with this man, Ryan proclaimed in this modern-day Gettysburg Address. Instead, to show the GOP’s commitment to women, I will host his surrogate, a man who believes women should be forced to have funerals for their aborted fetuses. The original copy of Ryan’s statement is already on display in the Library of Congress.

Ryan may have been first off the PT boat, but his audacious stance inspired others to do the same. Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Eeyore-looking Republican governor who was scheduled to appear at the event with Ryan and Trump, also came out strongly against Trump.

Few politicians respect women more than Walker, which is why he repealed Wisconsin’s equal pay law in 2012, signed a bill that required women to have ultrasounds before getting an abortion, and slashed Planned Parenthood funding by $1 million. But his five-word Tweet matters far more than his shameful history. Why we’re putting a woman on our currency before Walker is a mystery we’ll probably never solve.

Like Dolores spreading sentience through Westworld’s hosts via coded phrases, Ryan’s courage contagion quickly escaped Wisconsin to reach all our nation’s great states as well as Florida. Marco Rubio, a man who fearlessly condemned Trump before endorsing him at the Republican Convention via video, denounced Trump in the strongest possible terms. He appeared via video rather than in person because he was busy heroically running for the Florida Senate seat he told his constituents he wasn’t going to seek after dropping out of the presidential race. Rubio, a lifelong women’s rights champion who believes abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest, is a true American hero whose brave online repudiation of utterly indefensible statements should eradicate a decade of anti-women advocacy.

Any discussion of modern American political courage must involve Texas Senator Ted Cruz, one of our most principled public officials. When confronted with Trump’s comments, Cruz did not equivocate. He bravely took a position against the language, PC culture or safe spaces be dammed.

Hey, why are you giving Cruz credit here? He’s still endorsing the guy. So is Ryan, Rubio, Walker, and John McCain. You don’t understand because you’re operating under an antiquated definition of political strength. Courage isn’t yanking the endorsement you initially refused to grant. Courage is secretly selling your donor list to — and cold calling for — a man who called your wife ugly and accused your father of assassinating John F. Kennedy.

Mitch McConnell, a man so feminist he is often confused for a woman, also refused to let Trump’s sexism slide. The Senate Majority leader who voted against the Lily Ledbetter Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act simply cannot sit idly by while someone treats women poorly. Trump “needs to take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments,” McConnell said in a statement. McConnell correctly believes the reprehensible man Republicans selected as their nominee for president in no way reflects the party’s decades-long crusade against women’s rights. Denouncing grotesque sexism by an exceptionally unpopular candidate isn’t the politically expedient thing to do, but Mitch McConnell has never been a slave to orthodoxy.

Imagine (if you even can) the courage required to abandon your party’s toxic candidate when he’s facing nationwide condemnation and an all but insurmountable deficit in the polls. Our lexicon lacks a word to properly describe this level of intestinal fortitude. Calling men like Ryan, Walker, Rubio, Cruz, and McConnell “heroes” cheapens their actions. Their names will echo in eternity. Their pictures will grace living rooms across the land. Mount Rushmore is an adequate memorial for adequate men. These new champions deserve better. NASA should find a way to etch their faces into the moon so they are forever immortalized in the heavens like the deities they are.