Veterans urge Arizona to discuss January 6

What follows is the writer’s opinion and analysis:

Dan Barkhuff

Naveed Shah

The signers of the Declaration of Independence, which the United States celebrates this week, knew they were risking their lives. Benjamin Franklin is said to have muttered: “We must all stick together, or we will all hang separately.”

At that time, treason against the King of England was punishable by hanging, drawing and quartering (having his mouth slit open while he was alive and body parts removed), often before large audiences. As Arizonans take part in the festivities of the Fourth of July weekend, we urge them to consider the risks our Founding Fathers took to establish the rule of law.

Although America may have problems, our constitutional republic is a representative democracy without historical precedent. This idea is so powerful that from the beginning, Americans have given their lives to protect it. As veterans of the wars of 9/11, we often reflect on the many sacrifices that were made over the past 248 years.

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This year, in what is shaping up to be the most important campaign season of our lifetime, a pillar of all this — the peaceful transfer of power — is under attack. In every election since 1788 except one, the losing party has always ceded power to the opposition “voluntarily and peacefully.”

The exception was 2020, when Donald Trump enraged his supporters to the point that they attacked the US Capitol to disrupt the official certification of the results. American courts and society at large are still grappling with what was an attempted coup d’état that occurred on January 6.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to question the legitimacy of our elections and spread conspiracy theories. Among them, a distorted interpretation of 1776, in which Trump and his supporters wrap their white supremacy in red, white and blue flags. They also again threaten violence if the election does not go their way.

The American Revolution was violent, but it also contained the seed that gave birth to this representative democracy: faith in the rule of law. Leaders in 13 colonies overcame their fear of being hanged, drawn and quartered by the English crown and embraced the rule of law as the foundation of a new society, an experiment that continues to this day.

For these reasons, we have created a coalition of veterans from different political parties and diverse backgrounds. Our mission is to ask Democrats, Republicans, and independents for a simple commitment: to renounce violence in this election cycle and to honor the results of the 2024 election.

In Arizona, our organizations have more than 1,500 members combined. Veterans represent about 10% of the state as a whole and are a force at the ballot box. We and our military families are looking for a commander in chief who is guided by humanitarian values ​​and has a steady hand in command.

In late May, in North Carolina, home to the largest military base in the United States, we attended the state Republican convention, where GOP leaders echoed Trump in promoting violence on the campaign trail and dismissing the 2020 results. When we asked them to consider our pledge, they kicked us out.

During last week’s presidential debate, Trump dodged three questions about accepting the election results, and when asked about Jan. 6, he lied and blamed the chaos on Nancy Pelosi, the then-House speaker. His fearmongering was in overdrive, as was his disregard for the rule of law and his disparagement of veterans and the concept of service.

When gathering with friends and family, recite a line from the Declaration of Independence — that we are all created equal — and explain that more than 2,800 Arizona men and women have died abroad defending that idea.

So ask any Trump supporter nearby what they think John or Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson would say about January 6th.

Don’t be afraid to make things clear.

Follow these steps to easily submit a letter to the editor or guest opinion to the Arizona Daily Star.

The Arizona Daily Star

Dan Barkhuff is the president and founder of Veterans for Responsible Leaders.A 2001 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he served for seven years as a Navy SEAL and is now an emergency physician.

Naveed Shah is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and currently works for the progressive veterans organization Common Defense.