Who I Am and Why I Am Part of the Movement to Peacefully Resist and Remove the Trump Administration
For a few weeks now, many of my long-time Republican friends have been imploring me to, “Give Trump a chance”; they’re also frequently pointing out some variation of, “We endured 8 years of Obama, now it’s your turn.” If you fit into this category, you’ve probably been thinking, “Geez, Paul is usually so reasonable, friendly, and cooperative…why the heck is he so opposed to Trump?…Has he lost his mind or been brainwashed by the ‘liberal media?’”
I’ve grown weary of debating you one by one, of presenting the most objective evidence I can find, of stating my opinions and sharing articles, of personal attacks. I realize now that a good portion of that debate and attack might have been avoided if you knew who I am today and where I stand. So, as a fellow American and friend, I feel like I owe you a reintroduction and an explanation. Without making this an autobiography and being of sound body and mind, here’s a little background about me and a description of where I stand. Like it or hate it, this is the Cliff Notes version of my American Story.
I was born and raised in a small town called Portola in the rural Sierra Nevada of northeastern California. This part of the State is logging, ranching, and railroad country, and is very politically conservative (Plumas County, my home County, usually votes about 70% Republican in any given election).
My parents are both Republicans and Gerald Ford was the first President I can remember (I always loved that he played linebacker for the University of Michigan and wanted to do the same when I grew up). My brother and I witnessed and cheered Ronald Reagan’s inspiring speeches as we grew from boys to men. Upon turning 18, I registered to vote as a Republican and voted for George H.W. Bush in my first Presidential election.
I grew up hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping (still do), mostly in the beautiful National Forests and National Parks of the Western United States. I love our Country despite its flaws, admire and know the U.S. Constitution, and was taught by my parents to respect and support the men and women serving in the U.S. Military, law enforcement, other first-responder professions, and public office.
I fought fire a few seasons with the U.S. Forest Service, attended the University of California at Davis and the University of Arizona, got married, and moved back to Plumas County to build a life and raise a family of my own. My son and daughter, ages 10 and 14, are the loves of my life and I would do anything to protect them and give them a joyful, healthy, purposeful life.
Circling back to politics, even though I didn’t often agree with their policies, I have a great deal of respect for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. I think they were/are good people, never doubted that they loved our Country, and rarely questioned their intentions to uphold the Constitution and represent the best interests of the American people. I also respect Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, the most recent Republican Presidential candidates, and am grateful for their lives of public service.
These days, I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat (I’m registered as “Decline to State” and have been for years). I highly value the right to vote and have voted in every single election, local, midterm, primary, Presidential, etc., since I was 18. Although I vote for other parties more often than not, I still sometimes vote Republican, most recently for Brian Dahle for California State Assembly and Ted Gaines for California State Senate. I very much believe in voting for people and not for political parties; in fact, I believe that the 2-party system and the “us versus them/black and white” mentality it engenders, is our biggest political problem. I am a strong supporter of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and voted for neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump in the 2016 election. I felt that neither was ethically fit to serve as President of the United States, and that each had too many corporate conflicts of interest. I wrote in Bernie Sanders instead.
So this is not a partisan issue for me. And those of you who have known me a long time know that I am not “butt hurt” because of the results of the election; I hope you also know that I am not crying over spilled milk or crying wolf. I have supported and respected the winner of every Presidential election in which I have voted (8 elections)…except for this one.
So, despite my introversion and strong tendency to avoid conflict, I have been vocally speaking out, including marching and meeting with elected officials, against President Donald Trump, his administration (especially his primary advisor, Steve Bannon), and many of his policies.
It pains me to write this, but I strongly believe that the Trump administration threatens democracy, freedom, and the order of law in America, as expressed in the U.S. Constitution, at a level far beyond anything I have witnessed in my 47 years in America. I fear and believe that the Trump administration is quickly taking the United States down a path of corporate fascism and major global conflict.
So, in the spirit of John Pavlovitz’s inspiring essay, “Let the Record Show,” and adapting many of his words, I’d like to let you know where I stand:
Let the record show that I do not consent to this. Let it show that I did not vote for this man.
Let it show that the CIA’s and FBI’s conclusions that the election was unduly influenced by the Russian government leave me with serious doubts about the legitimacy of his election.
Let history record my objection to him, to the ways he humiliated women and vilified Muslims and threatened protestors and the media and disregarded people of color.
Let the record show that I witnessed how he boasted of infidelity, at how he ridiculed a disabled reporter, at the way he attacked female opponents for their appearance, at the way he marginalized immigrants.
Let the record show that I voiced objection when he bragged of sexually assaulting women, when the reality of his Russian alliances came to light, and when he refused to share his tax records.
Let it show that I have witnessed and personally verified with my own research that he lies daily, on matters both consequential and inconsequential.
Let the record show that I think his Twitter obsession threatens our National security and reveals his massive ego and vindictive nature.
Let the record show that I watched him assemble a Cabinet of corporate billionaires woefully unqualified to steward our children, our safety, our healthcare, our financial stability — and couldn’t believe what I was seeing and actively opposed nearly all of this appointments.
History is filled with horrible people who did terrible things with power, because too many good people remained silent. And because I fear and believe that we are entering one of those periods in our Nation’s story, I wanted to make sure that I was recorded for posterity:
I do not believe this man’s actions are normal. I do not believe he is emotionally stable.
I believe that he is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution and therefore should be removed (impeached) from office. Had he shared his tax returns, as promised, and adequately disclosed his global business conflicts of interest, and adequately dealt with the conflicts that were disclosed, I might have been convinced otherwise. In particular, his business ties with Russia, Russia’s influence in the election, his appointment of Exxon CEO, Rex Tillerson, as Secretary of State, Exxon’s intense interest in drilling in the Russian Arctic, the recent sale of Russia’s State oil company, the alleged dossier, and a whole host of other evidence and information point to a clear, significant, national-security-threatening conflict of interest in the best case, and to felony treason in the worst case. If sanctions are lifted against Russia within the next few weeks, I strongly suspect the latter.
Many prominent psychologists strongly believe that he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder; this is a disorder with which I have a great deal of experience and I share their opinion. While I have compassion for those with the disorder, it leads to a predictable lack of empathy, pathological lying, and massive personal insecurit — conditions that will not improve with time and which make him unfit to be our President, per the 25th Amendment of the U.S Constitution.
I do not believe he cares about the full, beautiful diversity of America, both within humans and within the natural environment.
I do not trust him in any way, shape, or form, including not trusting that he will protect our citizenry from its own government, police, and military.
I do not believe he respects women. I do not believe he is pro-life other than his own. I do not believe the sick and the poor and the hurting matter to him in the slightest.
I do not believe he is a man of faith or integrity or decency.
I believe he is a danger to our children.
I believe that he is motivated by money, power, and attention, rather than by the public interest.
I believe he is a danger to our environment and our Planet, that he will attempt to sell out our amazing public lands to corporate interests, and that he will remove as many laws protecting our air, water, climate, and land as he possibly can.
I believe he is a threat to our safety, including sensing that the probability of nuclear war has never been higher during my lifetime.
AND, if I prove to be wrong, it will be the most joyful error of my life. I will eat these words and willingly and gladly admit my misjudgment because it will mean that America is a better and stronger nation, and the World a more peaceful place.
But right now I don’t see that happening.
Right now, I am worried for my Country, concerned for our Planet, scared for the future of my children, and greatly saddened that 62 million Americans and most of the Republican Senate and Congress seem okay with all of this.
I truly believe that we are on the brink of losing our Democratic Republic to Corporate Fascism…and possibly worse.
Let the record show that I am not okay with it…and that I’ll be doing all I can to peacefully and legally resist the Trump Administration’s policies, to peacefully and legally remove Donald Trump from office, and to build a better future for our children, our Country, and our Planet.
A time of great consequence is upon us. Now that you know where I stand, I encourage you to be fully awake, to seek truth, to pray, to meditate, to form your own opinion of what’s happening, and to seek your own guidance about how you might engage (or not) in our democracy.
I, for one, have been placing a great deal of emphasis on observing and engaging with those that I consider to be the wisest, most ethical, most moral, most objective people I know. It might be your best friend, a community leader, a teacher, your pastor, your spouse, a counselor, a healer, or a writer…you know who these people are…they are the leaders among us. In my case, such people include Mark Hardy, Jeff and Tracy Kepple, Shawn Garvey, Bruce Williams, Jeff and Jill Boswell Dupras, Kelsha LeAnne, Jon Kennedy, Julie M Daley, Erica Haray-Butcher, Klytia Noel Nelson Dutton, Martha Beck, and a variety of elected officials I won’t list here. Whoever they are in your life, my request is that you go to them now, touch base, and seek their counsel, or at least observe them and what they’re seeing and writing.
Thanks very much for reading this. I expect that many of you won’t like what I wrote. That’s o.k. We still live in a free Country and I respect your take on things, even if it differs from mine. However, I do ask you to be respectful in your communications with me as well.
You read this because somehow, in some way, your life path has intersected with mine…we share a common path, a common Nation (most of us), a common Planet, and a common destiny…and too much is at stake at this stage of our journey for me not to express my truth.
I leave you with this quote from David Slack (@slack2thefuture):
“Remember sitting in history class thinking, ‘If I was alive then, I would’ve…’? You’re alive now. Whatever you’re doing is what you would’ve done.”
Paul Christopher Hardy, February 1st, 2017