Every day, Donald Trump tells us exactly who he is and exactly what he’s about.
To Donald Trump, the military is a prop he uses to enhance the strongman image that he has spent the last four years crafting for himself. He likes to speak of the military in possessive terms, referring to generals as “my generals” and the military as “my military.” In this way, he has far more in common with authoritarian leaders like Putin and Kim Jong Un than with commanders-in-chief like Lincoln or Roosevelt. I imagine he likes it that way.
When the cameras are rolling, Trump claims to love the troops. Yet this week we learned that behind closed doors, he referred to those who gave the last full measure of devotion to our nation as “losers” and “suckers” and turned down an opportunity to pay homage to fallen soldiers because he was worried it would mess up his hair.
Four years into the Trump presidency, none of this should really come as a surprise. Trump has denigrated heroes like John McCain and other highly decorated selfless career leaders who didn’t pass his personal loyalty test. He said that he didn’t want wounded warriors to be included in his military parade because they make people feel uncomfortable. He looked away when Russians were putting bounties on the heads of American soldiers.
What Trump’s comments about those buried at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery reveal is that he has no honor, nor any courage. Above all, it reveals that his sole devotion is to himself.
Standing in Arlington Cemetery, among the honored dead, and asking, “what was in it for them?” not only underscores that Trump does not deserve the title of Commander-in-Chief, but also that he does not understand the source of true American greatness, which we see on display every day. We see American greatness in the rows of white marble on that hallowed ground, in the men and women who wear the uniform of this country, and in the proud veterans who stand as an example to the next generation of what it means to serve.
America is and always has been great because of the service members who love their country enough to put themselves into harm’s way, expecting nothing in return. It is great because American families have the courage to send their children, parents, brothers, and sisters into war knowing that they may not come home.
As one of the over 840,000 veterans living in Pennsylvania and the father of a Marine, I know that we will rise above comments made by such a small, pathetic man. Sadly, we have come to expect such statements from him. Trump’s inability to understand sacrifice or to display even a modicum of empathy reveal more about his character than a hundred memoirs or tell-all books from members of his administration ever could.
Luckily this fall, we have a chance to turn the page on the Trump presidency, and the dishonor he’s shown to our troops, veterans, and military families in this country over the past four years. We can do that by electing Joe Biden as our next president.
Joe Biden is a man with a deep respect for the military and those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. He has lived the experience of sending a son into war.
As you get ready to vote in this election, I hope that you will appreciate how important it is to our service members and their families that they have a Commander in Chief with empathy and the right emotional temperament to carry out their duties.
By now we know that Donald Trump has no honor, no shame, and no sense of duty. America is great despite Donald Trump, not because of him. We deserve a better leader. I believe that leader is Joe Biden.
Chris Carney is a former Democratic Congressman who represented Pennsylvania’s 10th District from 2007-2011. He served multiple tours as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy from 1995-2015, leaving the service at the rank of commander.