Profile in Courage

Greg Gnall
3 min readMar 7, 2024

Alexei Navalny gave his life for his beliefs. The one man in Russia who President Vladimir Putin truly feared for his defense of democracy and his opposition to a senseless and shameful war died under brutal conditions in a penal colony where he was serving an absurdly long sentence on trumped up charges of treason against the state. Does anyone doubt that Putin was directly behind his death after he nearly killed his antagonist with Novichok, the Kremlin’s assassination weapon of choice, in 2020, which Navalny survived only to return to Russia to continue the fight but knowing he faced certain imprisonment and probable death?

Despite the prospect of imprisonment and worse under Putin’s increasingly punitive regime, thousands of Russians paid tribute to Navalny at his funeral and continue to visit his grave to demonstrate their allegiance to the courageous martyr who dared to oppose the brutal tyrant who has upped the costs to be paid for any whisper of disagreement with his reign of terror.

If only Republican members of Congress in this country could demonstrate any amount of courage under much less dangerous circumstances by distancing themselves from former President and aspiring tinhorn dictator Donald Trump. Like lemmings, they are rushing to the cliffs to outdo each other in shouting praises to the Orange One as the party’s now certain nominee in his quest to regain the White House.

There is a collective amnesia in this country about the chaos that prevailed with the first Trump Presidency, culminating in the shameful attempt to remain in power after an election that was proved to be the fairest in our history established him as the one word he hates more than any when describing him: Loser.

The chances that Trump can actually regain the Presidency are mostly because of the unpopularity of President Joe Biden, who would be a shoo-in in normal times, with a strong economy, low unemployment and dropping inflation. But he is hampered by his age, the conundrum in supporting Israel as it wages a justifiable war against the Palestinians while killing thousands of civilians a day, and an immigration disaster on the Mexican border.

Meanwhile Trump leads his fellow Republicans like sheep as he effectively kills an immigration bill that gave them everything they wanted, says nothing on the crisis in Gaza, promises to dismiss tens of thousands of federal workers who refuse to kiss his ring and invites Russia to attack NATO allies who do not carry their weight. How ironic for him to demand that all foreign aid be extended as loans, when he has made a career out of stiffing his creditors.

Meanwhile, Nikki Haley, the last opponent standing for the Republican nomination, has thrown in the towel in the face of overwhelming Trump support in the primaries. Although her views are no box of chocolate to Democrats, her surrender is portrayed as the death of the last glimmer of the old Republican Party of low taxes, minimal regulation and foreign intervention in the defense of democracy.

Meanwhile, the one Republican who seemed to stand in the way of unanimous Trump worshippers in the Party, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has also conceded defeat by endorsing him despite coming within a hair of voting for impeachment for his insurrectionist activities. Others have merely given up. Mitt Romney is not running for re-election and Liz Cheney was ousted, first from Party Leadership, then from her House seat itself, for daring to stand up to Trump.

It barely needs to be pointed out that none of the Congressional Republicans face nearly the dire consequences that Alexei Navalny endured in his courageous opposition to Putin. Their greatest fear is the wrath of Trump’s MAGA supporters who would “primary them” if they exhibit the slightest hint of opposition to Trump. The real question then is do they really believe in his nonsensical and infantile notion of leadership or do they merely fear for their jobs? If the latter, they need not worry as the booming Biden economy has plenty of jobs available. Now if we could only figure out which ones they are actually qualified to fill.

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