The two of us should be among Donald Trump’s biggest supporters. One of us (Mickey) is a founding trustee of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank and a former chairman of the American Conservative Union. Another (Charles) is an Afghanistan War veteran, a devout Christian and a graduate of Trump’s alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance. Both of us were elected to Congress as Republicans.
It is precisely because of, not despite, our backgrounds that neither of us are supporting Trump’s reelection.
We believe America is a wonderful and unique nation. The United States is the beacon of liberty to the world not because we are great or need to be great again, but because we are good. Childish name-calling, crude behavior and immature narcissism is unwarranted in any adult, let alone our president.
Our nation’s national security is best built by peace through strength. America is stronger when we stand together with the free democracies of the world against dictatorships. We are proud of our servicemembers and humbled by those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of liberty.
That is why we were so troubled by reports that Trump called fallen American military heroes “suckers” and “losers.” It disappoints us that he has threatened to withdraw from the Western alliance of NATO and needlessly picks fights with international democracies. Yet Trump professes kinship with dictators such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and even expressed love for North Korean despot Kim Jong Un.
Civility is a trait of inner character and self-confidence. That is why we are so disturbed by Trump’s name-calling and childish taunting, his penchant for conspiracy theories and his embrace of conspiracy websites, all of which reflect a disturbing paranoia. Donald Trump may pretend to be heir to the great Republican tradition that appealed to us both but he is no Republican. He is simply an ill-formed man who lacks basic self-control and shows no semblance of inner character.
America is a nation of immigrants, and it benefits from a national fabric woven with the threads of many people, of many backgrounds and cultures, all united in the common belief and love of American liberty. We proudly stand with the conservative value articulated by President George W. Bush, “[W]e never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength.”
Trump’s anti-immigrant devotion to isolationism, however, leads him to cruelly force children away from their parents at the border. He recklessly declares that immigrants are “animals” and “rapists.” His anti-immigrant approach bears a much closer relationship to the autocrats in Turkey or Russia or China than the American Statue of Liberty.
Most of all, we believe in a united America. As much as Republicans and Democrats may disagree, we still believe our differences are smaller than our common interests as an American people. Trump, however, repeatedly seeks to divide Americans against Americans — usually by late-night tweet — for his personal gain. This behavior is unworthy of an American president. Trump’s own former Defense secretary, James Mattis, put it best, “Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try.”
The late congressman and 1996 GOP vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp once remarked, “There is no limit to what free men and free women in a free market with free enterprise can accomplish when people are free to follow their dream.”
We believe in this positive vision for our nation. As President Ronald Reagan famously said, “The dreams of people may differ, but everybody wants their dreams to come true. And America, above all places, gives us the freedom to do that.” We proudly agree with these words.
Joe Biden is not a perfect man, but he is a man of humble decency. America needs a restored sense of national unity, basic civility and true character in our president. After four years of reckless Trumpian chaos and division, we believe it is time for a new president and ask that you join us.
Charles K. Djou represented Hawaii’s 1st District as a Republican from 2010 to 2011.
Mickey Edwards represented Oklahoma’s 5th District as a Republican from 1977 to 1993.