Macomb County veteran Jack Spielman said President Trump failed him on one fundamental lesson he learned during the service: Character counts.

In 2016, I was one of the 62 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump for president of the United States. Over the past six months, I have become a strong voice in the Republican supporting Joe Biden rather than Trump’s re-election. A question I am often asked is what was the catalyst that led me to not supporting Trump in 2020. The answer is the character I learned in my years of service. 

Almost 30 years ago, as a young Army captain, I was excited about taking my first command.  That moment was tempered by the thought that my predecessor had been relieved and that several soldiers soon to be under my command were facing court martial. As I received the guidon, the symbol of command, I was cautioned that “from this moment onward… everything is on you.”

During my 33 years with the United States Army, on active duty and as a Department of the Army civilian, there were three attributes that stood out for a strong leader: character, competence, and responsibility. Almost hourly, we are reminded through Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed that he is not a man who brings dignity to the office, nor treats people with respect. 

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Mr. Trump’s poor capability in being our nation’s chief executive can be seen everywhere: Looking at what is arguably the worst economy in US history, the sacrifice of truth during the pandemic with its resulting loss of American lives, the daily display of strife on streets across our nation, to the lack of a foreign policy strategy to advance American interests. 

And through all of this he deflects blame, clearly stating, publicly, that “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Asking the right question is important in developing an understanding and in determining a path forward. Why do I not support Trump, is an easy question. A more interesting question is, why have I become a voice in the opposition?

Last fall I was disheartened as I watched the impeachment proceedings on Trump’s actions with Ukraine. Americans, career professionals who have served this nation honorably, came forward to testify before Congress, under oath, on what they had witnessed. As I saw the retaliation against these true patriots unfolding, I thought it was disgraceful. As a veteran, I was particularly appalled at the treatment of LTC Vindman.

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In response I felt compelled to write the Republican National Committee (RNC) to express my concerns. I also called and wrote Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Rand Paul (KY). From the senators, the silence was deafening. In the RNC’s response thanking me for supporting Donald Trump and requesting a donation to Trump’s reelection, it was clear that my voice was not being heard within today’s Republican Party. That message from the RNC sparked a personal challenge to move beyond simply not voting for Donald Trump, to dedicating myself to implementing change within the Republican Party. 

In 1980, many Democrats crossed party lines to support Ronald Reagan for president. In 2020, it is the Republicans’ turn to cross party lines in support of Joe Biden. As a young commander, the axiom that leaders are responsible for everything their organization does… or fails to do was well ingrained in me. While the responsibility was mine, the success of the organization was a team effort. I was blessed to have a first sergeant whose counsel I could trust and rely upon to ensure our organization, my responsibility, was a success.

I know that I will disagree with aspects of Mr. Biden’s platform, but I have every confidence that he personally and the team he builds will commit to supporting and defending our Constitution and place our nation’s needs above his personal business interests.

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One of the better questions people might ask  is where do voters such as me turn when Americans band together to reject Donald Trump. While we may be pro-life and support the Second Amendment, embracing a Republican Party that runs candidates who are beholden to conspiracies from anonymous postings from internet chat rooms is something that simply will not happen. I would offer that there will be an opportunity to discard the inflammatory language and petty name calling to engage with progressives to find common ground.  

I may disagree with my wife that government-sponsored health care is a human right, but I do recognize that today, we pay more than other nations in support of a system that is behind our peers in access, efficiency, and quality. If we are to remain united and move our nation forward, this is one of many conversations we must have.

It is up to us to define our future. We have seen firsthand the impacts of Trump fueling division across our land. The first step is joining together to perform triage on our national leadership.