Jared Pace is a U.S. veteran who served as an Army specialist from 1994-1998.
I'm a veteran who served in the U.S. Army, and I can't stand silent while the values that I served for and the values that I've lived by are torn down by Trump.
I've lived in North Carolina for over 20 years. Last week, at his rally in our city of Greenville, Trump claimed that the GOP is the party of the American people, American values, and the American dream. But his behavior at the rally and throughout his time in office proves that couldn't be further from the truth.
I grew up in a conservative family, grounded by values that I think we all believe in as Americans: service, generosity, and leadership. When I graduated high school, I could not afford to go to college, so I joined the Army and served four years active duty that took me to Washington, D.C., and to South Korea.
The Army taught me courage and sacrifice. Trump says he loves the military, but he used power and money to defer his draft to Vietnam. Now he associates himself with the military often, as if he's hoping we will forget his cowardice. I can't help but question if he's ever truly sacrificed anything for this country.
Those of us who did serve know the Statue of Liberty is a symbol worth fighting for. Families at our border are fleeing violence to seek legal asylum in the United States. Under the Trump administration, they're arriving to a nightmare: their families torn apart, trapped in detention centers, drinking water from toilets, and sleeping on concrete floors.
How can Trump watch these atrocities and feel nothing?
Since his first presidential campaign, Trump has marginalized people of color through not only his policies, but also his blunt rhetoric. In recent weeks, he has focused his campaign of attacks on four American congresswomen of color.
At his rally here in North Carolina, he baited his audience by baselessly tying one congresswoman to terrorist organizations. He nodded approvingly as the crowd chanted, "Send her back!" All of this is blatant xenophobia and racism. The congresswomen he is attacking are all American citizens. Trump has promoted the dangerous and patently false belief that if a person's skin color is not white, he or she is not an American.
It took over 24 hours for a single Republican member of Congress to criticize Trump when he first attacked these women and told them to "go back" to the countries they came from, even though one immigrated to the U.S. when she was 12, and the others were all born here. Only four Republicans voted for a House resolution to condemn Trump's behavior.
This country has three equal branches of government. The executive branch is in dire need of a check, but Trump's own party doesn't dare challenge him. Republicans in Congress have turned a blind eye. They know that if they choose principles over Trumpism, their careers will be over.
I wish I could say I was surprised, but I'm not. My own senator, Thom Tillis, has proven his gutlessness time and time again. In February 2019, he authored an op-ed saying that he would vote against Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the border because it weakened the purpose and power of Congress. After receiving backlash from his party, he flipped and voted for Trump's declaration.
For Tillis and other GOP leaders, it is clear that personal power, self-preservation, and proximity to the Trump administration matter more than standing up for the principles of this country.
This is what Trump's America looks like. This is not the America for which I served.
Trump pledged to us North Carolinians that he will lead with and fight for American values, but this veteran does not believe him.
Trump has shown us the exact opposite. He has shown that he is un-American. Countless men and women who are black or brown have served this country, and have given their lives. Thousands are doing so right now. To imagine them risking their lives for America, their home, while their commander in chief says that people like them should go "back to their country" as a campaign strategy crushes me. I stand with them, not him.
Jared Pace is a U.S. veteran. He joined the Army straight out of high school and was a specialist from 1994-1998, serving overseas in South Korea. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife and children.