In 30 years of service to my country, I have never been asked if I was a Democrat, Republican or Independent. The reason is that the question is irrelevant in an environment where we are all on the same team with a common mission. Donald Trump changed all that starting by asking if a Commander-in-Chief was a US citizen and ending with a statement that he won an election he lost – thus making the new Commander-in-Chief a thief who has stole his job. It’s bad enough that we have recruits from homes where the Red and Blue Division is fomented by television and radio pundits who make a handsome income attacking the executive branch of the United States government but don’t have never served in the military; these young recruits are also betrayed by Republican representatives and senators whose duty to take an oath has taken precedence over an alternate reality made up of “alternative facts”.
Trump, in rally speech after rally speech, portrayed Democrats as “evil” and “animal” and “mentally violent” and “unfit to govern.” In my entire military career (and in the history of this country), we have never had a Commander-in-Chief publicly declaring that service members and their families pose a threat to the constitution, the defense of which is our only oath. It’s the same oath for members of Congress, so it’s an abdication of responsibility, a failure on their part to defend a third of the military, many of whom serve in combat zones. So few members of Congress have served in the military that they have failed, time and time again, to oppose Trump’s anti-American and anti-constitutional rhetoric, which has eroded the foundations of the most reliable from America.
When Trump said neo-Nazis, the KKK and other white supremacists in Charlottesville were very good people, he was talking about people who are disqualified from military service for unconstitutional beliefs. Republican leaders should have drawn their line in the sand. Former President George W. Bush did – he publicly opposed the incumbent president and reinforced truth over lies. Bush was well aware of the destructive power of fascism; we fought a horrible and expensive war defeating her, her own father nearly lost his life as a Navy combat aviator. He also knew that our current army includes minorities and a significant number of Jewish personnel. The rallying cry of Richard Spencer and the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally was a call to defend Western civilization against “the Jew and his dark-skinned ally.” The sitting president receives a daily intelligence briefing and knows which groups are on the FBI’s Domestic Terrorist Watch List. There was no excuse for Trump’s behavior and there was no excuse for the GOP leadership to continue supporting him.
More seriously, the Senate and House conducted investigations into Russian cyber warfare against the United States and uncovered extensive contact between an enemy state (including Russian intelligence operatives) and the Trump family, the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign. Congress imposed economic sanctions on Russia as punishment for what the Commander-in-Chief described (and still describes) as a hoax. The Republican-led House and Senate also concluded that Putin’s primary goal was to divide the American people and cause us to lose faith in the electoral process. Trump has become the primary agent for both of these Russian strategic goals with claims of a “deep state” dedicated to his removal and a “Stop the Steal” claim of voter fraud which, according to his own Attorney General William Barr, does not didn’t exist.
The bottom line is this: for the first time in American history, we have a former commander-in-chief running around the country saying that the current commander-in-chief is an impostor and that he won the presidential election. “by a landslide victory”. And we have a Republican leadership that claims the “big lie” is not destructive to the integrity of our military establishment. The question is why?
I am told again and again, even by two Republican members of Congress from my home state of Pennsylvania, that this is “just politics,” as if all of these unprecedented acts and behaviors happened in previous administrations. John McCain, Jeff Flake, Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Jim Mattis, Mark Milley and George W. Bush know more.
Jeff Flake warned his colleagues, in his Senate retirement speech, that if they accepted what was clearly abnormal as a new normal, they were complicit. Our current GOP leadership is complicit in an attempt to destroy our current military institution by division from within; and if they continue to remain silent or actively support a mentally unfit former president, then they could be complicit in the destruction of a great democracy. America is paying a heavy price for having so many members of Congress deprived of the simple but vital experience of having their lives depended on a brother or sister-in-arms who were members of something as insignificant as a different political party.