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Marino embraces Trump, embarrasses district

March 9, 2016

Calling it a “life-changing moment” akin to the adoption of his children, Congressman Tom Marino announced his endorsement of Donald Trump on Monday—one day after the presidential candidate refused to denounce the KKK during an interview on national television. It’s the latest embarrassing headline Marino brings back to his district.

Endorsing a megalomaniac reality TV star for President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief shows poor judgment; doing so right now, out of pure political opportunism, shows poor character. But neither is surprising to me, as both men share a lot in common.

Marino and Trump play to voters’ fears. At the outset of the Ebola outbreak in 2014, Marino was among the first to politicize the issue by calling for the border to be closed and senior officials to be fired, warning the situation was “spiraling out of control.” (Obviously untrue now.) After the San Bernardino shootings, Mr. Trump called for an unconstitutional ban on all Muslims entering our country.

They both make promises they have no intention of keeping. Marino made defunding the Affordable Care Act a central cause of his candidacy, only to vote for a bill that fully funded the law just weeks after his reelection. Trump claims he can deport 11 million undocumented Americans and make another sovereign nation pay for a wall across our southern border. (Spoiler alert: that won’t happen either.)

They both struggle with ethical behavior. Marino resigned in disgrace as a U.S. Attorney when his staff uncovered a reference he provided for a convicted felon under investigation by his office––and then went to work for said felon as in-house counsel before running for Congress. Trump is now under fire for hiring illegal workers and running a sham university.

Although I may disagree with them, I can’t blame voters who have had enough of traditional politicians and are now supporting Donald Trump. But I do blame self-interested political weathervanes like Marino for setting the stage for Trump over the past few election cycles by poisoning the public square with divisive rhetoric, fanning flames of ignorance and intolerance, and perverting conservatism in a way that made a portion of the movement not just anti-government but also anti-governing.