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The Party of Personal Responsibility

Donald Trump mug shot
Trump's mug shot from the Fulton County Sheriff's Office in Georgia.

I can’t count the number of people who have told me that they are Republicans because they believe in “personal responsibility”, or that theirs is the party of “personal responsibility.” But their leader, Donald J. Trump, now known as Inmate PO1135809, is incapable of doing exactly that.

Paying our bills on time, completing our education, being fiscally responsible, finding a job, taking care of our own family (with little or no assistance from the federal or state government) may be Republican values.

However, the party takes obscene contributions from big pharma and permits drug companies to rip us off. It supports tax policies that permit the rich to avoid tax liability, but runs the country on the taxes paid by the lower and middle class. It protects dangerous product makers from being sued, cozies up to polluters and sends the clean-up bill to the taxpayers. It declares that climate change is a hoax; who foots the bill for Canadian, Hawaiian, and northwest wildfires? Do you doubt that a wealthy father of a rape victim in Mississippi would board a plane to the nearest state that permits abortion?

Trump, of course, is the ultimate example of Republican avoidance of personal responsibility. On Aug. 24, he surrendered to authorities at the Fulton County prison in Georgia, for booking, which included fingerprinting and a mug shot. For most of us, the experience would have taken hours, even days, but Trump was out of Fulton County in twenty minutes.

Ever notice that mug shots usually include orange jump suits? Trump’s mugshot was taken in his customary blue suit and red tie. (I guess it’s a “uniform” of sorts.) As he headed for his private plane (that we probably paid for) he had this to say:

“I had every single right to challenge a dishonest election. We did nothing wrong at all.”

After four separate indictments and 91 charges, Trump continues to rev up the more dangerous elements of his base and compulsively lie, spouting dangerous and divisive rhetoric about witnesses, prosecutors, ordinary citizens, judges, and politicians who dare to disagree with him or, worse, try to reign him in. One such citizen has successfully sued him for defamation. Two poll workers have done the same, after Trump’s lies and harassment ruined their lives. It is high time for the various trial judges to explain the meaning of “contempt of court.”

Trump recently transferred some of his holdings in preparation of avoiding personal responsibility for his defamatory comments. Watch for more transfers of assets. After his criminal trial related to the events of January 6, 2021, he might receive the largest restitution order in American history. He obviously seeks to avoid personal responsibility—why else would someone who “has done nothing wrong” transfer assets in contemplation of trials on the merits?

Why shouldn’t he foot the bill for January 6th? He is personally responsible, and he claims to be a Republican. He inspired the insurrection, by inflammatory and false words and actions. He lit the match. His illegal and despicable behavior went (and continues to go) far beyond any ‘free speech’ notion of a ‘right to challenge a dishonest election.’ Do I need to tell you that there are proper and legal ways to do that? He filed multiple lawsuits. He lost every single one.

The Party of Personal Responsibility?

If the GOP is the party of personal responsibility, this is a man who is incapable of doing so. In his own warped mind, he’s a victim not a perpetrator. And he’s incapable of admitting failure or defeat. He twice lost the popular vote (2016 and 2020), but claims he won the 2020 election in a “landslide.” He lost Georgia, and then leaned on the Republican secretary of state to find him 11,000+ votes.

Personal responsibility is the belief that people choose and control their own actions and destiny. They should be morally and legally responsible for the outcome of their actions. To be fair, sometimes, there are mitigating circumstances. What does Trump argue as mitigation? “As president, I can magically declassify classified documents.” “I had a 1st Amendment right to inspire an insurrection.” “I won—this is a witch hunt.” “I’m a narcissist—I’m incapable of admitting I lost or that I did something wrong.” Are these solid arguments that will exonerate him? Give me a break.

Ever experience that sinking feeling that you made a serious mistake? Perhaps it happened at work, and you must tell the boss. Are you thinking of ways to sugarcoat or cover-up the error? Are you looking for someone else to blame? This is human nature.

Ultimately, however, most of us would do the right thing and accept responsibility. After all, doing the opposite would destroy your credibility and fail our co-workers or management team. Accepting personal responsibility is a sign of growth and maturity—and opportunity to steer your life in a positive direction.

Donald Trump has failed the country, failed his right-leaning constituents, behaved like a spoiled child, and destroyed his already sullied reputation. Accepting personal responsibility helps us learn from our mistakes.

Since Trump believes he is incapable of making a mistake, how will he ever learn? His inability to accept loss and personal responsibility are two of several character flaws that make him unfit for public office as he is unwilling to conform to society’s established standards of individual behavior. Someone who is personally responsible does not seek to blame others; he maturely responds to the challenge and accepts blame for his actions.

Donald Trump had choices, an opportunity to do the right thing, concede the election, highlight the good things he did in office, and move on to 2024. Instead, he blamed and disparaged poll workers, voting machine companies, secretaries of state and other governmental employees, and made a mockery of our democracy. In short, he made excuses and failed to accept personal responsibility. And the Republican party, the party of personal responsibility, by and large, supported his antics and praised his spunk. How do you think the party of personal responsibility would have responded if he was a Democrat?

Fictional President Andrew Shephard said in the film The American President, “being president of this country is entirely about character.” Donald Trump lacks the humility, integrity, and, yes, character to be president of the United States.

Narcissism, dishonesty, hate speech, rabble-rousing, and an inability to accept personal responsibility have been the hallmarks of his presidency and candidacy. Perhaps that’s how you win the Republican nomination. It is, indeed, the Trumpian playbook. But it disqualifies him to be president. He must own his behavior as an officeholder and a candidate and accept personal responsibility for it. His supporters must remove their blinders and hold him accountable. When they finally do that, perhaps America can move forward once again.

Some of Bello's books

If you haven’t done so already, please check out Mark Bello’s ripped-from-the-headlines legal thrillers, all available online at Amazon and other major online booksellers. He has quite the hero in Attorney Zachary Blake, who fights for justice on all fronts. His books are Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, Betrayal High, Supreme Betrayal, Betrayal at the Border, You Have the Right to Remain Silent and his latest, and his latest, “The Final Steps – A Harbor Springs Cozy Legal Mystery. Also, he’s written a wonderful children’s book about bullying, “Happy Jack, Sad Jack.” For more info, just check

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C J Waldron
C J Waldron

He only worries about the “personal” part. Responsibility is as foreign a concept to him as his understanding of his Constitutional oath of office.

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