Retired General Backs Biden, Says A 2nd Trump Term Would Put Democracy 'At Risk' | New Hampshire Public Radio

Retired General Backs Biden, Says A 2nd Trump Term Would Put Democracy 'At Risk'

Oct 9, 2020
Originally published on October 9, 2020 7:03 am

Retired four-star Air Force Gen. Chuck Boyd is one of hundreds of military voices speaking out against President Trump this election. Late last month, Boyd, who fought in Vietnam and spent seven years there as a prisoner of war, joined nearly 500 national security leaders who endorsed Democrat Joe Biden.

In a video endorsement, Boyd says that ever since he returned from Vietnam, he has been a Republican, "but quietly." He goes on: "I fervently believe that military officers should not get involved in presidential politics, even when retired. But this year is different."

That's because, Boyd tells NPR, he thinks Trump is a danger to democracy.

"As I watched him over the years, my unease with his presidency has increased. It increased to the point that I believe that our democracy will be in shatters by the time he has served two terms," Boyd says. "While I am reticent about getting involved in presidential politics by any military men, in this case, keeping out of the political process is something I don't feel like I can do."

In the interview, Boyd explains how he came to his decision to endorse Biden.


Interview Highlights

Take us back to the moment you decided that you did need to come forward.

I think the point at which he began telling the American people that the election process itself was fraudulent, that mail-in balloting was a disaster, was terrible. I thought if our citizens lose faith in how they go about electing their leaders, then democracy itself is at risk, at deep risk. That's the point at which I said I've got to get involved in this in some way.

Are there policy decisions or rhetoric that Trump has used over the last four years that makes you concerned about a second Trump term?

What really worries me — and this is one of the objectives of the Russians for a long time — is to cause people to lose faith in democratic processes. A lot of other countries, fragile democracies, look to the United States as an example of democracy in action. And when they see our democratic processes not functioning, then I think other nations lose faith in their own process.

A recently published story in The Atlantic used anonymous sources who said Trump called members of the U.S. military who died in war "suckers" and "losers," and on another occasion on a visit to Arlington cemetery, he reportedly said he didn't understand "What was in it for them?" Trump has denied these statements. How did you respond to the report?

I found it sickening — and I believe it by the way. To know that the commander in chief holds those who serve in disdain, that's a knife right straight into the heart of any military man. ... To call those people suckers is one of the most disgusting things I can imagine. That's one of the reasons I've made the commitment to support and endorse Joe Biden for president.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

General Chuck Boyd served in the Air Force for more than 30 years. He was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for seven of those years. Boyd's job required him to avoid talking about politics. But now he's retired. And he's decided that democracy needs his voice. This lifelong Republican endorsed Democrat Joe Biden. And he told Rachel Martin that it's because of President Trump.

CHUCK BOYD: As I watched him over the years, my unease with his presidency has increased, increased to the point that I believe that our democracy will be in shatters by the time he has served two terms. And so - well, (laughter) I'm reticent about getting involved in presidential politics by any military men. In this case, keeping out of the political process is something I just - I don't feel I can do.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I understand that. Take us back to the moment you decided that you did need to come forward.

BOYD: I think the point at which he began telling the American people that the election process itself was fraudulent, that mail-in balloting was a disaster, it was terrible, I thought, if our citizens lose faith in how they go about electing their leaders, then democracy itself is at risk, at deep risk. That's the point at which I said I've got to get involved in this in some way.

MARTIN: Are there specific policy decisions or rhetoric that he has used over the last four years that makes you concerned about a second Trump term?

BOYD: Well, this is a man who came to office massively ignorant about how our own government works and how the world works. And he demonstrated that he was not interested in experts helping him develop rational policies. But what really worries me - and this is one of the objectives of the Russians for a long time, is to cause people to lose faith in democratic processes. A lot of other countries, fragile democracies, look to the United States as an example of democracy in action. And when they see our democratic processes not functioning, then, I think, other nations lose faith in their own process.

MARTIN: I want to ask about an Atlantic magazine story that was published a few weeks ago.

BOYD: Yes.

MARTIN: This story reported using anonymous sources quoting President Trump calling members of the U.S. military who died in war, quote, "suckers and losers." And on another occasion on a visit to Arlington Cemetery, he reportedly said he didn't understand, quote, "what's in it for them." I should say, the president has denied these statements. But considering your long tenure in the Air Force, as a former prisoner of war who spent seven years alongside Sen. John McCain in Vietnam as a POW, how did you respond to that?

BOYD: I found it sickening - and I believe it, by the way - to know that the commander in chief holds those who serve in disdain. That's a knife right, straight into (laughter) the heart of any military man - not just military men, those who serve their nation and commit their lives to serving the national security of this country. To call those people suckers is one of the most disgusting things I can imagine. That's one of the reasons I've made the commitment to support and endorse Joe Biden for president. I am confident that after four years with a Biden presidency, we will have a healthy, working, functioning democracy, of that I'm certain.

MARTIN: General Chuck Boyd, we so appreciate your time. And thank you for your service, sir.

BOYD: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.