I’m A Coast Guard Spouse. I Won’t Support Trump.

October 29, 2020

President Trump recently announced plans to pull troops from Afghanistan, Somalia, and a handful of other countries, in what appears to be an obvious bid for support from service members and their families. After four years dismal years as our nation’s commander-in-chief, there’s no way he could win mine. 

I’m a proud military spouse and a patriotic American. My husband has served in the United States Coast Guard with honor for almost 20 years. Since I was old enough to comprehend the magnitude of the Oval Office, I have held whomever was elected president in high esteem. Whether Republican or Democrat, our nation’s leader should be given respect.

But when candidate Donald Trump launched his bid for the highest office of our country, I had deep misgivings. I watched in disbelief as he disparaged an American hero, someone who had been a prisoner of war. I was disgusted when he mocked a reporter with a disability. And I read with despair his daily barrage of insulting and demeaning tweets. I’d never heard a presidential candidate speak with such disregard for his fellow Americans.

Despite deep reservations, once he was elected, I resolved to give President Trump a chance. After all, he was now my husband’s commander-in-chief. But within days, he began to chip away at my deeply ingrained respect for his office. His promise to bring home the troops can’t begin to repair the lost trust he himself created with his own actions and words.

During his almost four years as president, his time as president has led me to not only question his values, but his ability to lead this country. Even the military has not been spared his name-calling. When credible reports emerged recently that the president had called our troops “losers” and “suckers,” I wasn’t surprised. His record of belittling and demeaning others speaks for itself. He doesn’t hide who he is.

One piece of legislation early in his tenure set the tone for Trump’s entire presidency: He permanently slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% while only temporarily creating tax benefits for the middle class. To pay for those tax cuts, he slashed programs that serve our most vulnerable. That move showed what really mattered to him — it wasn’t average people and it wasn’t service members.

Military spouses have an unemployment rate of around 25%, and that’s because employers are hesitant to hire someone who moves around constantly. We are forced to be entrepreneurial. Many of us are self-employed as artisans, freelance writers, and consultants — and we pay thousands of dollars more in taxes than the president. Americans learned recently that Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. We all pay into the system, but the president has decided he is above it. That not only harms our military; it frays the fabric of our society.

When Trump didn’t get the border wall money he wanted from Congress, he instigated a government shutdown that went on for 35 days. The Coast Guard was at that border, but they weren’t getting paid. We were told to have garage sales to pay our bills. The president told us to simply “make adjustments” in our budgets. While our Coasties deployed on the border and served this country with honor, spouses and nonprofits came together to take care of their families. President Trump and his administration refused to.  

Some who read this may attempt to paint me as unpatriotic, but they’d be wrong. I’ve devoted the majority of my adult life to service, and gladly so. My Italian immigrant family came here in the early 1900s to build a better life. They served with honor in every major conflict dating back to World War II. I was raised to understand the deep and profound privilege of being an American — and that with that privilege comes the civic responsibility of calling out the values and leadership ability of a commander in chief who has fallen far short of what we want and need.

I’m proud to be a citizen of this country, but America and all Americans can be better. We aren’t as great as we can be, but we can get there by demanding that our leaders and elected officials embrace the values of respect, honor, and kindness.