Do conservatives feel the same fear and embarrassment as I do over President Trump?

President Donald Trump smiles as he walks on South Lawn of the White House on Feb. 2, 2018.Yuri Gripas / Reuters file

Americans used to believe that the presidency was a role that had great dignity. But this president is an expert at escalating conflict and creating uncertainty — and he’s frankly embarrassing.

He has undermined public confidence in journalism, making it harder for us to share common facts. He seems to delight in creating economic chaos even when it causes the stock market to plummet. He appears to fire advisors who press him to behave more responsibly. He’s bragged about having bigger nuclear weapons than North Korea, and promised Russia that “nice, new and ‘smart'” weapons are coming toward them in Syria. China could play a productive role in defusing the North Korea problem, but instead is the target of the president’s new war against “STUPID TRADE.”

He even tweeted a World Wrestling-style challenge to the former Vice President Joe Biden last month.

Clearly, it’s entertaining to some people, and he does get attention. But his behavior makes me sad, embarrassed and terrified. What are we modeling for our children? For our society?

Stocks and retirement funds have gone up over the past year, but people around the world are laughing at us, and some are even pleased to see the mighty America flailing due to the internal dysfunction he’s creating.

I need to understand what my Republican friends see that I’m not seeing.

I’m a progressive and part of a domestic peace movement, seeking to better understand those who see the world differently. But I also work with conservatives every day to heal our relationships locally and nationally; I’ve had the privilege of making many wonderful conservative friends in the last 10 years, as we’ve worked together on shared goals for education, reducing the prison population, energy solutions and more.

I have intentionally broken out of my progressive bubble; my Republican friends want the best for our country and from our leaders.

Still, I couldn’t sleep last night; I was gripped with fear for our future. The leader of our nation has nuclear weapons at his disposal. John Bolton, a man who has promoted pre-emptive war in North Korea and Iran, now leads the National Security Council. (Our use of preemptive war with Iraq was not a great success.) The secretary of state nominee, Mike Pompeo, would not rule out a ground war in North Korea or preemptive nuclear strikes there, even though the world has gone over 70 years without using a nuclear weapon in warfare.

Am I right to be losing sleep? I truly think that our democracy is at risk, and that the world is at risk. I need to know if conservatives see the same thing.

If conservatives do see what I’m seeing, I want there to be leaders in the Republican Party courageous enough to put country before party. I know that stepping out of line is risky, but I need Republicans to ensure that we don’t do irreparable harm to our nation and the world. We need courageous leaders to help do the work of reweaving the fabric of our country.

And conservatives across our nation must stop ignoring the obvious issues with President Trump, both personally and professionally, and hold him to a higher standard of conduct and rhetoric.

I wish that current Republican leadership would take the many voices like mine into account, but the reality is that they might even take pleasure in our discomfort. Their attention requires that people who are respected on the right step up together.

We are all responsible for what is happening in America. But only my Republican friends have any power to do something about it in this moment.

Democracies are fragile; they require our collective support and participation. Just because we are the oldest democracy in the world does not mean we won’t fail.

The world is watching us decide what kind of world leader we are, and what kind of leader we aspire to be. Our role in history is being written today. We all have to decide how we want it to read later

Joan Blades is the co-founder of and