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I am a lifelong Republican. I have worked on Republican campaigns for 46 years, supporting candidates at the federal, state, and local levels. When I was 28, I challenged and defeated a Democratic state representative in Pennsylvania. I served in that office for six years, and then as a state senator for six years. In 1992 I responded to Newt Gingrich’s recruitment program and defeated a seven-term Democrat for a seat in Congress. I supported the Contract with America that led Republicans into our first House majority since 1955. I served as chair of Gingrich’s Planning Committee. I supported every Republican presidential candidate from Richard Nixon through Mitt Romney.
But I could not support Donald Trump in 2016. And last year, I vigorously supported Joe Biden. I believe he will be a president who will inspire, reunite, and elevate all Americans.
Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote, “In a president, character is everything.” Leaders worthy of the office must not only set an example by their conduct, but they must also endeavor to unite our citizens in common cause to improve our lives and fashion a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. To do this they must embody empathy, courage, vision, decency, and candor — and they must summon these traits in us.
Regretfully, Donald Trump possesses none of these virtues. As difficult as it can be to pity a bully, Trump is, himself, a victim of a bully – his father. As Trump’s niece, clinical psychologist Mary Trump, says, “Donald is not simply weak, his ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered every moment because he knows deep down that he is nothing of what he claims to be.” Trump’s pathology manifests as a severe form of narcissism, a lack of empathy, and the compulsive lying necessary to protect his ego from the reality of his own incompetence.
These profound character flaws resulted in four years of veering policy forays intended to earn the adulation of a base of Americans, who for the most part, limited their sources of information to a narrow band of right-wing media and were thus conned into believing Trump was the answer to their very real problems. The coronavirus pandemic magnified how unfit Trump was to serve as president. From the onset he minimized the grave risk of the virus for fear the truth would impact the economy on which he depended for reelection. His failure to lead, his refusal to heed the advice of experts, and his consistent denial of scientific reality resulted in disastrous economic consequences and incalculable suffering.
For these reasons and countless others, I and many of my former Republican Congressional colleagues were compelled to do all in our power to help elect Joe Biden.
I do not share all of Joe Biden’s policy positions and will continue to oppose policies that I believe would weaken America. I believe climate change threatens the very habitability of our planet and I strongly support Biden’s emphasis on this crisis. I share his goal of elevating racial minorities and the economically downtrodden. I am confident that he will unite us through compromise and pragmatic problem solving, not partisan posturing. I trust that Biden’s qualifications, experience, and temperament will make him an able, empathetic, and decent president.
We have long been the world’s greatest nation, but we are facing decline at home and on the world stage. We can, and must, move forward together under President Biden’s leadership and forge a more prosperous, equitable, and healthy future.