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Walden: It is time for all Arizonans to stand up for democracy

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Walden: It is time for all Arizonans to stand up for democracy

Lifelong GOP member not casting a ballot for any Republican candidates

  • Tyler Merbler|CC BY 2.0

Dick Walden is the CEO of Farmers Investment Co., which operates pecan farms in Southern Arizona.

For the first time in memory, as a lifelong Republican, I cannot vote for or endorse any of the federal or state candidates in Arizona my party put on the ballot this election.

I always consider myself an American first and a Republican second. I support free enterprise, limited government, a strong defense, balancing government spending, and protecting civil liberties and privacy.

As the adage goes, "There are no Republicans and Democrats in the foxhole." As a Vietnam veteran, I can attest to that. At Ft. Knox, Kentucky, I saw young Americans from all walks of life equalized by buzz cuts and uniforms and molded into team players. Our country's military draft was a great leveler, exposing young men and women to people they may not otherwise encounter.

We should reinstitute some service commitment to our country, be it military or civilian, that puts an obligation on young people to give back to their country and puts them through a boot camp experience to challenge their limits and teach them the deadly responsibility of a firearm.

I always took pride that Arizonans were independent and non-partisan thinkers. They could support Carl Hayden, Barry Goldwater, Dennis DeConcini, John McCain, Jon Kyl, Mo Udall, Jim Kolbe, Sandra Day O'Connor, Rose Mofford, and Gabrielle Giffords.

And Arizona's bipartisan delegation could work together to bring important benefits to our State such as the Central Arizona Project. I was proud that Barry Goldwater was instrumental in persuading Richard Nixon to resign rather than to continue the embarrassment of the Watergate scandal.

Now, all of Arizona's Republican federal and state candidates are election deniers. They take this position without a shred of evidence.

Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, has doubled down on her claims that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump and implied that she will only accept the Arizona election results if she wins!

Other Republican election denier candidates on the slate include secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, attorney general candidate Abraham Hamdeh, Treasurer Kimberly Yee, and superintendent of public instruction candidate Thomas Horne.

Therefore, I respectfully suggest that all of us, regardless of affiliation, review at least the broadcast of the last meeting broadcast of the January 6th Committee, before we cast our midterm votes.

The videos of rampaging, merciless rioters armed with mace and other weapons, attacking police, and threatening our vice president, senators and members of Congress with death are forever seared in my mind.

Our then-President Donald Trump whipped the crowd on the Mall into a frenzy by saying, "Fight like Hell, or you won't have a country anymore!"

Almost all of the witnesses who came before the committee were Republicans - from the inner circle of the White House, Justice Department, and Cabinet.

Their testimony showed that Trump knew he had lawfully lost the election, that his claims of election fraud were meritless and that his challenges in the courts failed one by one.

Of 62 court challenges, all but one were rejected.

The committee presented convincing evidence that the president had planned an attempted coup or attempt to decertify a presidential election ever since he lost.

And so, Trump convinced thousands of his followers that a monumental fraud was committed and persuaded some of them that the patriotic things to do was commit mayhem and even murder.

Ignoring pleas from his staff and Republican Senate and House leaders, he sat in front of the TV in the White House reveling in the violence he had unleashed for 3 hours and 7 minutes.

This while a gallows was erected on Capitol grounds amidst cries of "Hang Mike Pence," and mobs combed the offices of House leadership yelling, "Where is Nancy Pelosi?" As representatives donned gas masks and told to shelter under their desks, staff members hid in closets in offices and prayed for their lives.

We all thank former Vice President Mike Pence for doing the right thing and upholding our constitutional free election. During the January 6th hearings, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Iraqi war vet, said," Freedom is not free. We must continually defend it, not only overseas, but here. It saddens me that so many of my colleagues have not met the moral imperative we face."

It also saddens me that so many Americans seem not to grasp what Rep. Bernie Thompson rightly concluded, "This is not about politics or political party, but about facts and the rule of law."

Immediately after the Capitol attack, shaken leaders such as Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Lindsay Graham and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy angrily declared that Trump bore responsibility his words and actions that incited the mob to violence.

Some of us on both sides of the aisle rejoiced, thinking that these leaders had finally seen the shocking disregard of Trump for the safety of his vice president, the Senate and House, and the police officers so valiantly fighting to protect them.

But where are the Republican critics now?

Except for Sen. Mitt Romney, Rep. Liz Cheney, and a handful of others, they have all conveniently "forgotten" their angry condemnation of Trump that day.

Instead of being grateful to honest Republican state officials like Brad Raffensberger, of Georgia, they have run extreme candidates against them in the primaries and generals.

Thankfully, in Arizona, Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers refused to be pressured to decertify an election despite phone calls from Trump and his henchmen Rudy Guiliani and John Eastman.

Speaker Bowers also refused to participate in the sham investigation by a firm with no credentials that purported to examine the Arizona results. What reward did Speaker Bowers get for upholding his oath to defend the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions?

MAGA supporters with decorated trucks showed up at his Mesa Ranch, some with digital billboards claiming him to be a pedophile.

A fourth-generation Arizonan, Rusty is a devout Mormon who campaigned for and supported Trump through the 2020 election. Some far-right militia members shouted obscenities at his home and waved guns. This harassment occurred while his daughter lay terminally ill in their home. She passed away on Jan. 28, just three weeks after the Capitol riots.

In July, the Arizona State Republican party censored Speaker Bowers. State Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, a Trump acolyte, declared that Bowers was "no longer a Republican in good standing," which set the stage for his defeat in the August primary from a Trump-endorsed candidate who said that the election was stolen and was "satanically snatched by the devil himself."

Similarly, the U.S. House Republicans demoted Republican Liz Cheney, once the third highest ranking party member in the House, after her criticism of Trump and refusal to accept the "Big Lie" of the election.

Her actions to protect our democracy also resulted in her defeat in the primary by a handpicked Trump devotee, Harriet Hageman.

As reported in the Guardian, Rusty says, "the Constitution is hanging by a thread. The funny thing is, I always thought it would be the other guys. And it's my side."

He adds, "the thought that if you don't do what we [Trump supporters] like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves—that to me is fascism."

I agree with Rusty Bowers, and I agree with the findings of the January 6th committee, which painstakingly marshaled facts to address the threat to our free elections, which are the envy of the world, and for which our forebears have fought and died.

It is time for folks like me to stand up and be counted and to speak the truth about this pernicious disease infecting the Republican Party. Leaders from all walks of life, be it business, faith groups, government, or appointed officials, need to reaffirm what poll workers and volunteers know.

Our free elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. Sadly, I will not be voting for any Republicans in Arizona this year, nor will I support the national Republican party in its present shambles.

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