From Arnold Schwarzenegger
People who read my unapologetically opinionated pieces know that I’m far more likely to parody or mock aged Hollywood celebrities than to respect them. But today, as the US government gathers to preside over a count of Electoral College votes, I’m simply going to reproduce in full an interview the former Governor of California gave to The Economist this week:
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA was my first love. I fell for this country long before I was lucky enough to live here. From the moment I was exposed to my first images of skyscrapers, huge bridges, Cadillacs, beaches and Hollywood in grade school, I felt that I belonged here.
And as I learned more about the founding of America, about the vision of the founding fathers, about this land of opportunity, I fell deeper and deeper under its spell. By the time I was lucky enough to move here more than 50 years ago, I was obsessed.
Today, I’m deeply concerned for my country. As an immigrant, as an American and as a Republican, it is my duty to speak up.
I grew up in the ruins of a country that gave up on democracy and faced the consequences. You may think I’m being overly sensitive about this — but when you’ve lived through the aftermath as I did, trust me, you worry.
When I was born in 1947, two years after the second world war ended, Austria was in the middle of a famine. Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history. They were part of a system that murdered 6m Jews along with at least 5m other innocent people, tortured and experimented on human beings and started a war that caused 75m deaths. Not all of them were rabid anti-Semites or Nazis. Many just went along step by step down the road toward greater and greater evil because it was the easiest path.
I don’t believe America is capable of those depths of evil, but I do believe we should remember the dire consequences that choosing selfishness and cynicism over service and hope can have. I want to be sure that we don’t take those fateful steps.
President Donald Trump’s actions to destroy faith in our elections and throw centuries of American principles out the window must be met with universal condemnation from all political leaders, regardless of party.
Claims of mass voter fraud have been rejected by court after court (59 cases were thrown out of courts including the Supreme Court), by the Department of Justice and by state election officials from both parties. There is no question about who won the presidential election and continuing this charade is stupid, crazy and evil.
President Trump’s request in a leaked phone recording to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find 11,780 votes” is a low point in American history. If I hadn’t already given Mr Raffensperger a Democracy Action Hero award last month — which my institute at the University of Southern California hands out to recognise officials who protect American values — I’d be scrambling to honour him now. He is a true hero for standing up to this un-American bullshit.
On January 6th, when electoral-college votes are counted, leaders in Washington, DC will be faced with a choice. I once did a Terminator film called “Judgment Day”. That’s just Hollywood. But January 6th is Judgment Day for a lot of politicians. Will they choose to side with the voters, or will they choose to side with their party and their selfish president?
For those in my party considering standing up against the voters on January 6th, know this: our grandchildren will know your names only as the villains who fought against the great American experiment and the will of the voters. You will live in infamy.
John F. Kennedy wrote one of my favourite books that helped lead me in my own public service, “Profiles in Courage”. If our politicians go down this road and ignore the voters, we will need a sequel to that book called “Profiles in Cowardice”, about the leaders who chose party over country, conspiracy over democracy, and one man over 81m voters.
When George Washington left office, he wrote a farewell address that echoes through history to us today. As our only independent president, he specifically warned about the danger of political parties. Today, he sounds like someone who travelled through time (though I thought that was my thing):
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.”
It is time for the members of my party to step back from the partisan battlefield and accept the results of the election. We must never put our party above the great American experiment. We must never forget that we are Americans first. We must never forget that any power our politicians have comes from the voters, and they have spoken.
God bless this country and every American brave enough to stand up for it. God help those of you willing to throw it all away.