Never in my life did I ever imagine I would be writing a column such as this.
I grew up in the shadow of the Greatest Generation and the heroes of World War II and Korea.
I was lucky enough to be born in the heartland at a time when American history and U.S. government and civics classes were still mandatory for graduation — a graduation that in the years leading up to it had me running a hay rig during the day and sitting in a tractor cab at night to earn money for college. In that cab, when you’re picking up radio signals from Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota, at 1 a.m., it doesn’t just amaze you with the physics at work, but it also reminds you of just how lucky and special you are to live in such a country that could make it happen.
I left home Wednesday with the debate beginning in the U.S. House and Senate regarding objections to the Arizona slate of electors, as our Constitution allows. It is an effort I fully supported because I am — as I’ve been all my adult life — a believer in that document and the processes defined within it.
And as one who these past weeks has watched hours of state legislative hearings and read the sworn affidavits of individuals who claim to have witnessed election irregularities in person, I was in full support of getting such irregularities entered into the public record — peacefully and constitutionally.
I returned home to reports of people scaling walls, our elected representatives being removed to shelter and President Donald Trump's supporters attempting to take over the Capitol — actions that are not only against everything I have ever stood for, but actions that are against the very foundations of this republic, which I hold so dear.
I voted for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020 not because of his personality but because of the policies. I endured the Arab oil embargo and the President Jimmy Carter years of ineptitude. While my family farm survived, many others did not. I have personally seen what failed federal policy can do to individual families.
Since those tractor days more than 40 years ago, I have watched as this nation turned further and further away from its founding principles and closer and closer to a federal government unrecognizable to the Founding Fathers that first set forth our founding principles.
As I type this, I’m hearing about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the mayor of Washington, D.C., wanting to call in the National Guard but not wanting the image of armed personnel on Capitol grounds. I wish I had a direct line and could say to them: “I personally despise your politics, but for God’s sake, bring in the Guard and let be what may. The people doing this deserve not kid gloves but an iron fist. They are not peaceful protesters but insurgent rioters.”
If George Washington as president could lead a military force against his own veterans in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 and President Herbert Hoover order the military to clear the Bonus Army of 1932 from federal property, then yes, we today can indeed call out the National Guard against those attacking the very essence of what it means to be American.
I disagree with Joe Biden and his party’s politics, but it was he — not the president of the United States — who first came out with a statement against the assault on our Capitol.
It was he who said: “The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are ... I call on this mob to pull back and allow democracy to go forward."
And it was sadly and pathetically the 45th president of these United States who muttered: “I know your pain, I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us, especially the other side, but you have to go home now. We have to have peace, we have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order, we don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time, there’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us, from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So, go home. We love you, you’re very special, you’ve seen what happens, you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil, I know how your feel but go home and go home in peace.”
I don’t know who your “we” is Mr. President, but they’re certainly not me.
Geoff Caldwell lives in Joplin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.