My father, a nearly 99-year old lifelong Republican, has only once in his life not voted for his party's candidate. During World War II, he was a young Navy officer navigating the USS Miller DD 535. In the midst of heavy action in the Pacific—service that would forever extract an emotional toll—Dad voted for his commander in chief, Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Seventy-six years later, Donald Trump's ruinous presidency has now convinced him to abandon the Republican incumbent. This gives me hope.
I know many of you have already voted. Thank you! But for those who have not yet dropped off their ballot, or are so exhausted that the idea of voting at all is distasteful, or feel that by not voting you are making a claim against a flawed political process, I implore you to vote.
Days away from our national election, I'm urging everyone to hold to your sense of outrage because our democracy, our planet, and our children cannot afford four more years of such mendacity—not to mention incompetence, greed, divisiveness, and dog-whistling racism.
Dad, for instance, lives in a senior living community in Santa Rosa. We have had to evacuate him each of the last three years because of fire, smoke, and power shutoffs. Since March, moreover, his community has essentially been under lockdown because of the pandemic, with no communal activities, no common dining, no off-campus visits from family or friends.
Dad recently spent seven weeks with us. The idea was to relieve his isolation, but after five weeks, he couldn't go home because his residence was evacuated—yet again. The Glass Fire came within a half-mile of his residence. When we finally drove him home, we had to drop him at the parking lot curb because outsiders aren't allowed into the facility. In sight of a scorched ridge, we said our goodbyes in tears, and I thought, "He doesn't deserve this."
Dad is a hero, one of the dwindling number of WWII veterans who faced death to ensure our democracy, to overcome pure evil, and to safeguard our country and the world. He doesn't deserve to be called a "loser" and a "sucker" as Donald Trump has branded our fallen soldiers. Trump belittles buried warriors because they died, because they were stupid for not putting their personal lives above their patriotic duty. While standing in Arlington Cemetery in 2017 by the grave of Robert Kelly, son of then-Homeland Security Advisor John Kelly, Trump reportedly said, "I don't get it. What was in it for them?"
Conservative pundits betray their alleged ideals when they urge you to vote for a man who mocks our fallen combatants.
He may never say this aloud, but my Dad was in it for you. He doesn't deserve to live his final years shuttered away, isolated even from neighbors because this president has been too callow, bungling, and uncaring to prevent the deaths of 225,000-plus Americans from a virus he knew to be deadly and infectious, facts he admitted to knowing almost a year ago. "We've turned the corner," Trump crows repeatedly, being incapable of putting forward a comprehensive plan to combat this disaster.
Instead, the U.S. set an all-time, single-day record of more than 85,000 new cases. A Columbia University report demonstrates how we could have avoided as many as 130,000 deaths, had the U.S. instituted the same steps as the similarly high-income countries of South Korea, Japan, Australia, Germany, Canada, and France.
Too many have lost loved ones to COVID-19. They've not even been able to hold their hands in their final moments. Eventually we will get through this crisis, but at what cost to families, to the education of our children, to our economy?
As for the existential planetary crisis, Trump has totally abdicated leadership and responsibility. With only 4 percent of the world's population, the U.S. accounts for 14 percent of global CO2 emissions, ranking second behind China as the worst contributor to a problem that, unless checked, will ultimately make Earth uninhabitable.
How many more evacuations can Dad face? How many more crippling heat, wind, and storm events; how much smoke-choked air? The day after we "rescued" Dad, SLO recorded the highest temperature in our history: 120 degrees! How can we sustain the livability of our beloved Central Coast, of California, of the nation and the globe? What future are we bequeathing our children and grandchildren?
Right now, the Trump administration is rushing to dismantle climate change safeguards. Trump's Environmental Protection Agency will have reversed up to 100 environmental rules, including emissions limits from power plants and from cars and trucks. More than half of America's wetlands have lost protections, and the EPA has undermined limits on mercury emissions from power plants.
Joe Biden may not orate like Churchill, but—like my Dad—he's in it for you. He honors soldiers. He aspires to justice for all. He will protect our Earth. He will care for our children.
Nov. 3, 2020, may be the last election of my dad's life. He fought in WWII to save democracy and for the U.S. to serve as a beacon of decency, hope, and fairness. Friends, you have a choice to return our aspirations to that legacy, Dad's legacy. Hold on to your outrage. Vote. Δ
Amy Hewes is a grassroots political activist. Send comments through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.