"I feel the burden to advocate for my values and an enormous urgency to act," writes Lt. Col. Vindman, promising even as he despaired, he has reason to hope.
August 1, 2020

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was pushed out of his lifelong career of military service by Donald Trump for standing up for what is right. Col. Vindman defended his country and the Constitution, and stepped forward to defend the law during impeachment hearings against Trump. For his trouble and his bravery, he was bullied, physically threatened, and stonewalled at his job. He retired from the military when it became clear he could no longer advance because of Trump's retaliation and abuse.

Today, he published an op-ed in The Washington Post expressing his dismay, combined with a glimmer of hope and urgency to act.

A year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine the very foundations of our democracy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the facade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration.

At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.

Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents. Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished. The president recklessly downplayed the threat of the pandemic even as it swept through our country. The economic collapse that followed highlighted the growing income disparities in our society. Millions are grieving the loss of loved ones and many more have lost their livelihoods while the president publicly bemoans his approval ratings.

Jonathan Capehart's panel discussed the tragic turn this man's career has taken on AM Joy this morning, with guests Rosa Brooks and Jonathan Swan weighing in.

BROOKS: No, it's heart-breaking to listen to his comments. There was a period of time, I don't know if this is the case, but during the impeachment proceedings, in which the United States Army had to post security around Col. Vindman's home protect him and his family after the death threats he was receiving as a result of the president's comments. It is hard to know what to say to that, that it's appalling.

CAPEHART: Jonathan Swan, your reaction to Lt. Col. Vindman?

SWAN: It's of a piece with a series of denunciations that have come from retired and very prominent Pentagon officials, including James Mattis, who had been very, very reluctant to speak out publicly. Very much so, in fact, he saw it as his duty to maintain a silence while Trump remained in office, but after the episode at Lafayette Park with the tear gas and clearing out the crowd, Mattis came out and described Trump as a unique threat to this country in his lifetime. So I would place that in the context of Mattis of warnings from John Kelly, McRaven, you go down the list, there is a whole series of formers that are coming out publicly to denounce Donald Trump.

And yet, Lt. Col. Vindman still has hope, and plans to fight the best way he knows how.

A groundswell is building that will issue a mandate to reject hate and bigotry and a return to the ideals that set the United States apart from the rest of the world. I look forward to contributing to that effort.

In retirement from the Army, I will continue to defend my nation. I will demand accountability of our leadership and call for leaders of moral courage and public servants of integrity. I will speak about the attacks on our national security. I will advocate for policies and strategies that will keep our nation safe and strong against internal and external threats. I will promote public service and exalt the contribution that service brings to all areas of society.

Let's hope an overwhelming and unuestionable majority of citizens follow his example in November and beyond.

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