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Prominent Conservative Voices Against Trump

Support for the president wanes after poor response to the pandemic and nationwide protests.

Supporting Donald Trump, or at least his actions, has become harder lately. Trump’s response to the pandemic and to nation-wide protests against police brutality have shown the president’s ego controls his policy actions.

The following prominent conservative voices have spoken out against Trump:


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JAMES MATTIS

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”

James Mattis, the highly respected Marine general who acted as Trump’s Secretary of Defense before resigning in late 2018, initially declined to criticise the president. He said he did not want to harm existing officers’ opportunity to defend the country. He said he owed a certain period of silence, but that he would not keep quiet forever.

Mattis’s silence lasted until Trump used tear gas on peaceful protestors for a photo op. Here are Mattis’s words of condemnation:

IN UNION THERE IS STRENGTH

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

Read a discussion at The Atlantic.

At the NYTimes see condemnations of Trump by other retired military leaders regarding Trump’s use of troops against Americans.


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50 GOP FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIALS

“Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and independence of the judiciary.”

Before Trump gained the Republican nomination for President, his group of critics in the Republican party was large. By the time Trump became President, the leading voices in the Republican party were all Trump supporters. But here are some GOP officials who refused to kneel to Trump and spoke out clearly from the start.

Shortly after Trump gained the Republican nomination, 50 senior Republican national security officials issued a letter stating “None of us will vote for Donald Trump.” Here is what they had to say:

The undersigned individuals have all served in senior national security and/or foreign policy positions in Republican Administrations, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. We have worked directly on national security issues with these Republican Presidents and/or their principal advisers during wartime and other periods of crisis, through successes and failures. We know the personal qualities required of a President of the United States.

None of us will vote for Donald Trump.

From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.

Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.

In addition, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and the democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based. At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous Presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself. He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. Despite his lack of knowledge, Mr. Trump claims that he understands foreign affairs and “knows more about ISIS than the generals do.”

Mr. Trump lacks the temperament to be President. In our experience, a President must be willing to listen to his advisers and department heads; must encourage consideration of conflicting views; and must acknowledge errors and learn from them. A President must be disciplined, control emotions, and act only after reflection and careful deliberation. A President must maintain cordial relationships with leaders of countries of different backgrounds and must have their respect and trust.

In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities. He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commanderin-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

We understand that many Americans are profoundly frustrated with the federal government and its inability to solve pressing domestic and international problems. We also know that many have doubts about Hillary Clinton, as do many of us. But Donald Trump is not the answer to America’s daunting challenges and to this crucial election. We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history.

See the letter and its signatories here.


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COLIN POWELL

“This is not the way the country’s supposed to run, and Congress is one of the institutions that should be doing something about this . . . [T]he Constitution started with, ‘We the People,’ not ‘Me the President.’”

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell did not sign the 2016 letter from national security officials opposing Trump, but since then, Powell has made his disapproval of the President clear. Most recently, Powell pledged his support for Biden in 2020, calling Trump a liar and saying Trump is bad for the country.

Trump’s foreign policy actions contributed to Powell’s disapproval of the president. In October 2019, President Trump caught his military advisors off-guard with a sudden decision to pull troops out of northern Syria. The U.S. troops were in northern Syria protecting allies and were still necessary to maintain stability in the area, according to senior U.S. officials. Trump’s move baffled many, as reported by Fox News.

Following Trump’s decision to pull the troops, Colin Powell — who had until then restrained his criticism of Trump — spoke out:

The Republican Party has got to get a grip on itself. Right now, Republican leaders and members of the Congress, in both the Senate and in the House, are holding back because they’re terrified of what will happen to any one of them if they speak out,” he said. “Will they lose a primary? I don’t know why that’s such a disaster, but will they lose a primary?

And so, they need to get a grip, and when they see things that are not right they need to say something about it, because our foreign policy is in shambles right now in my humble judgement.

Powell brought up a time when Trump made his own nonsense meteorological hypothesis about the trajectory of hurricane.

In my time, one of us would have gone to the president and said, ‘Mr President, you screwed up, so we’ve got to fix it and we’ll put out a correction.’ You know what they did this time? They ordered the Commerce Department to go out and backup whatever the president mis-said. This is not the way the country’s supposed to run, and Congress is one of the institutions that should be doing something about this.

The media has a role to play, we all have a role to play, you’ve got to remember that all these pieces are a part of our government. Executive branch, Congress, Supreme Court, and of the Fourth Estate, and we’ve got to remember that the Constitution started with, ‘We the People,’ not ‘Me the President.’

See the 2019 interview here.


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CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST GEORGE WILL

In life’s unforgiving arithmetic, we are the sum of our choices. Congressional Republicans have made theirs for more than 1,200 days . . . May I never crave anything as much as these people crave membership in the world’s most risible deliberative body.”

One very prominent conservative columnist is willing to go as far as to say the Republican party should lose its control of the Senate in addition to the Presidency to restore the loss of morality caused by Trump’s infiltration into the party.

For more than 40 years George F. Will has been a leader of conservative political thought. Will won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977, was a contributor for Fox News from 2013-2017, and now contributes for MSNBC and NBC News as well as writes a column in the Washington Post.

Will denounced his membership in the Republican Party as soon as Trump became the candidate. His words today call for the complete destruction of the Trumpian GOP.

In his Washington Post column, Will has words to describe Trump and then even worse words for the Congressional Republicans enabling Trump.

Will’s words regarding Trump:

This weak person’s idea of a strong person, this chest-pounding advertisement of his own gnawing insecurities, this low-rent Lear raging on his Twitter-heath has proven that the phrase malignant buffoon is not an oxymoron.

The president’s provocations — his coarsening of public discourse that lowers the threshold for acting out by people as mentally crippled as he — do not excuse the violent few. They must be punished. He must be removed. …

This unraveling presidency began with the Crybaby-in-Chief banging his spoon on his highchair tray to protest a photograph — a photograph — showing that his inauguration crowd the day before had been smaller than the one four years previous.

And regarding Trump’s enablers, the “senators who still gambol around his ankles with a canine hunger for petting”:

Senate Republicans must be routed, as condign punishment for their Vichyite collaboration, leaving the Republican remnant to wonder: Was it sensible to sacrifice dignity, such as it ever was, and to shed principles, if convictions so easily jettisoned could be dignified as principles, for … what? Praying people should pray, and all others should hope: May I never crave anything as much as these people crave membership in the world’s most risible deliberative body.

In 2016, the Republican Party gave its principal nomination to a vulgarian and then toiled to elect him. And to stock Congress with invertebrates whose unswerving abjectness has enabled his institutional vandalism, who have voiced no serious objections to his Niagara of lies, and whom T.S. Eliot anticipated:

We are the hollow men . . .

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

or rats’ feet over broken glass’ . . .

Read the article at Washington Post (subscription required); discussions at MinnPost, CNN.


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REPUBLICAN VOTERS AGAINST TRUMP

“I’m a Republican because I believe in free markets and free trade. Donald Trump is a crony capitalist and protectionist.”

“I don’t believe Trump is an actual Republican. We all took it in and voted for him, but I don’t believe he truly cares about Republican values.”

“I like to say he hijacked the party.”

Each of us has a prominent voice in our own communities. That’s the idea behind this group of voting Republicans who are voicing their disapproval of Trump. On the organization’s website, Republican Voters Against Trump, you can scroll or search videos created by voters expressing dissatisfaction of the president.

The group will spend $10 million campaigning against Trump, publishing ads like this one.

See coverage at NYTimes and Huffpost.

 

About the Author

Mariam Morshedi

Mariam Morshedi

Mariam Morshedi is the Founder and Executive Director of Subscript Law. Before starting Subscript Law, she practiced civil rights law for AARP Foundation, where she litigated housing, consumer and disability rights issues.

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