OPINION: The MAGA Movement Betrays the United States Military

Steve Nolan, a 30-year military veteran and author of “American Carnage: An Officer’s Duty to Warn,” explains why Trump is unfit to hold even the lowest rank within the military, let alone lead our country as Commander in Chief.
President Trump supporters wearing faith in God and Trump shirts at a March 2020 rally in Charlotte, NC, at Bojangles Coliseum. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

I come from a military family. My father served in the Pacific and my mother was a heavy casualty Army nurse in Europe during WWII; my two brothers served in Vietnam and I served in Afghanistan — we have all been betrayed. Late Senator John McCain was betrayed after heroic service to country and over five years as a prisoner of war. Donald Trump brazenly told us that he liked people who weren’t captured, he told us that he loved the people who brutalized our Capitol police, he said that he fell in love with a human rights monster cited by the United Nations for crimes against humanity, and he said that Vladimir Putin was a genius for his invasion of an allied nation.

What a shame that after 3,500 plus law suits, infidelity with his wives, cheating on his taxes, a $2 million fine for ripping off donors to his fraudulent charity, $5 million to a rape victim, and a $25 million fine for his fraudulent university, we, as a nation, remain ignorant to the psychiatric explanation for all his behavior.

It’s not merely that we have allowed a man who is totally corrupt to be president, but it is that we have allowed someone with a pathological level of narcissism to command our military — a level of narcissism that would be an obligatory psych-discharge or a court martial followed by prison. 

This isn’t rocket science, but even members of my extended family insult the U.S. military daily by their support of Donald Trump. I served 30 years in the military, Army, and Air Force. The motto at West Point is “Duty, Honor, Country.” The motto at the Air Force Academy is “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” In our last election 74 million Americans voted for a man whose entire life is a desecration of these principles. The insult was made all the worse by many members of Congress, who take the same oath as every military member. We have been lucky that the enemy has been overseas all of these years, but their betrayal is not lessened by their support of a domestic enemy.

 On June 18, 2019, Donald Trump kicked off his re-election campaign in Orlando and told the MAGA crowd that Democrats were out to destroy this country. That declaration disqualified him as President of the United States. My wife is a Democrat, two of my three children are Democrats, and two of my four siblings are Democrats. No president has the right to declare that my loved ones are out to destroy this country, and no president ever has. Approximately one-third of the military he commanded at the time were Democrats, many of them serving in combat zones.

READ: Donald Trump and the Resurrection of Fascism

Senator McCain said that the President of the United States went to Helsinki and abased himself in front of a tyrant (Trump lied to the entire world about confirmed Russian cyber warfare). Senator Jeff Flake said in his retirement speech that if we accept what is abnormal (Trump’s pathological lying) as a new normal we are complicit. This nightmare is not going to end until America is educated to a very simple fact: 

For the first time in American history we elected someone to command our military who was unfit to hold the lowest rank within the military. Donald Trump’s candidacy is an insult to all who serve and all who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of E PLURIBUS UNUM.  

Almost half the country and half of Congress seem clueless to the qualities necessary to serve in uniform. We do not keep recruits who are rude, crude, nasty, bullying and cannot tell the truth. We would not keep any recruit who believed that sexual assault was due to putting men and women together, who believed he knew more than the generals, refused to believe his Commander in Chief was a U.S. citizen, believed that confirmed military intelligence was a hoax, that Neo-Nazis are fine people, that a free press is the enemy of the people, or that the Geneva Conventions tie the hands of our military. And, of course, rape, stealing classified documents, or fraud would lead to military prison. 

LISTEN: The Growing Fascist Threat to American Democracy, with Jeff Sharlet

It is unacceptable that ignorance about a character disorder, which is an instant disqualification from military service, has led us to this Orwellian moment where a man who tried to overthrow the government of the United States is the leading candidate of his party. America cannot continue to insult all those who believe in service to others unto death by tolerating an individual who has proven he is mentally incapable of anything but service to self.  

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Steve Nolan

Steve Nolan spent 30 years in the military and 25 years as a mental health professional. He has published in numerous journals and his poetry was featured on National Public Radio, Morning Edition, upon his return from Afghanistan in 2007. He is the author of “Go Deep,” “Base Camp,” and “American Carnage, An Officer’s Duty to Warn.” His work reflects his commitment to social justice.

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