Editor’s note: In the final week, we’re going to be sharing a series of perspectives from Latter-day Saints on why they’re voting for Joe Biden. This is the fourth, from Paul Pratt. Read the first here, the second here, and the third here.
My name is Paul Pratt. I am a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, veteran of the USAF, and a lifetime Republican/Libertarian supporter and voter. This election, however, I will not be supporting the conservative nominees. Instead I will be casting my vote for Joe Biden.
I am a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, military academy graduate, and USAF veteran. I spent my active duty career in our country’s ICBM command. I learned the importance of deterring enemy threats, a reverent respect for the destructive capability of my weapon system, and the crucial need for temperate leadership. I have voted either Republican or Libertarian my entire life. This presidential election is the first time I have ever felt compelled to seriously examine this allegiance.
To paraphrase one of my favorite authors, Ayn Rand, the government’s only responsibility is to protect its people from violence. And while I recognize that President Trump has done many positive things for the military, I am concerned that under President Trump’s leadership we have become dangerously isolated from our democratic allies. As a result President Trump is putting the nation’s safety at risk unnecessarily.
I was nervous when Trump was elected. Much of the anxiety I felt was largely dampened by the cabinet members he selected, specifically General Mattis and General Kelly. As I spent time learning about the rest of his initial cabinet, I became more confident in President Trump’s ability to lead our country because he surrounded himself with people that could help and serve. This, unfortunately, did not continue.
President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated an open hostility to every person who challenges, or seeks to clarify, his personal paradigm (i.e. intelligence agencies, State Department). This is especially evident in his foreign policy efforts. He has yet to grasp that his words, however well intentioned, shape global perception and action. There is at least a correlative relationship between President Trump’s words, actions, and inactions, and those of other countries hostile to the US. Alarmingly I have observed what appears to be more of a causal connection between what he says and does and the resulting global movements.
President Trump’s supporters will point to the recent agreement between Israel and the UAE as evidence of his foreign policy chops. To his administration’s credit, they were able to capitalize on an increasingly normalized relationship that began in 2015. They recognized an opportunity when Prime Minister Netanyahu ceased annexation efforts this past summer. It can’t be denied that this is, at the moment, a notable success.
However, this success cannot overshadow other, greater foreign policy failures. As Americans we often confine foreign policy to the Middle East, at times expanding our view to include China and Russia. But even then we ignore nearly every other area of the world. What has been lost in the last 4 years is this: the understanding that we cannot unilaterally avoid conflict, create peace, or maintain security without expanding influence and strengthening relationships with other democratic governments.
This is where President Trump has, in my opinion, immeasurably weakened our country. Under President Trump’s leadership, our allies are experiencing unprecedented levels of disrespect and open derision. Instead of cultivating relationships with our allies, President Trump has sought the approval and partnership of authoritarian leaders who actively seek to subvert democracy and supplant the United States as a global leader.
While I applaud President Trump’s decision to expand military funding and increase funding to the VA, this means very little if we mistreat our allies, praise dictators, refuse to listen to and trust intelligence experts, and subscribe to the idea that we can do what we want because we are the USA.
President Trump’s supporters will truthfully state that, unlike many of his predecessors, he hasn’t taken us to war. While President Trump hasn’t taken our country to war, he has taken us to its doorstep through his brazen refusal to listen and consider before he speaks or acts. The United States has never been more at risk of having to face what’s waiting behind that door exposed and alone. And despite all the rhetoric and posturing, we absolutely cannot hope to survive and thrive without our friends and allies.
So for the first time in my life I will not vote for the Republican/Libertarian party. President Trump has failed to demonstrate an ability or even a desire to build global consensus and support. Instead his habits include open hostility for our allies, disdain for intelligence professionals that confront his personal beliefs, and an alarming refusal to distance himself from countries seeking our downfall. Former Vice President Joe Biden isn’t just the best choice, but the only choice in this election if we hope to stand together, instead of alone, in the face of global tyranny.