At a campaign event last week, Donald Trump accused American troops of stealing funds earmarked for rebuilding Iraq. Naturally, after an immediate backlash to Trump's bizarre attempt to score political points by smearing servicemen and women who served honorably in Iraq, his campaign backpedaled and tried to claim that he wasn't actually referring to American soldiers. But the damage was done; Trump showed his true colors and the disdain he feels for America's veterans.
Of course, this isn't the first time Trump has demonstrated a total lack of respect for veterans. After he bragged about having raised millions of dollars, including $1 million of his own money, for veterans' causes back in January, it became clear that this claim was dishonest. Not only did the fundraiser raise far less than he claimed, Trump did not actually donate the $1 million of his own money until it became the subject of intense media scrutiny four months later.
As a veteran, these incidents are particularly painful for me to watch, but as an American I am also shocked and angered on a daily basis at Trump's slanderous comments about women, people with disabilities, immigrants and Muslim Americans.
Trump has proved himself to be not only vulgar and offensive, but also unpredictable and irresponsible, with little respect for freedom of the press or our rule of law. Having Trump in the Oval Office — and at the helm of America's military — would pose a serious threat to our security.
Unfortunately, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has refused to show the political courage to denounce this dangerous demagogue. He said that he would "support" the nominee, but not endorse him, as though there is any meaningful difference, and even went so far as to say he would campaign with Trump in Wisconsin. In spite of his recent claims that he does not support Trump's proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, Johnson has still not denounced Trump or acknowledged the threat he poses to our country.
Choosing his party and his political career over the interests of our nation is indefensible, and history will not judge kindly those who stayed silent and failed to show leadership in this critical moment.
Birds of a feather flock together. Johnson has an opportunity to be a leader by unequivocally denouncing Trump and all that he stands for. If he does not support Trump's racist rhetoric and his attacks on America's veterans, it's time he said so.
Randy Bryce is an Army veteran who serves as president of the Veterans Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party's Veterans Caucus.
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