Former Caroline County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tony Spencer announces his joining the Democrat Party due to nomination of Donald Trump
In 2007, Tony Spencer ran against a Democratic incumbent for Commonwealth’s Attorney of Caroline County, Virginia. Spencer won election in 2007 and again in 2011, with significant Republican support. However, in response to the Republican nomination of Donald Trump for President, Spencer announced today that he is joining the Democratic party. Spencer gave his reasons in the following announcement:
When I was first elected Commonwealth’s Attorney in 2007, I ran against a Democrat, and though I have always run as an Independent, I have agreed in large part with the political ideology of my Republican friends.
After a great deal of thought and soul-searching, however, I am joining the Democratic Party, and I will actively campaign for and support the Democratic nominee for President.
This is not a decision I have made lightly.
No one can predict the future, so we have only our history to guide us going forward. It is said that those who forget the horrors of the past are doomed to repeat them.
In trying to find an historical parallel to this year’s election, I had occasion to look closely at the Election of 1932 in Germany, which was a democratic republic at the time.
After the First World War, the Social Democrats were elected to govern Germany for five elections in a row. While their policies were to the left of center on the political spectrum, the Social Democrats were not extremists, and they governed responsibly from 1919 to 1932. They were able to work with the Conservative and Center parties that finished second and third for most of those years.
The German people were hit especially hard by the Great Depression, and in the election of November 6, 1932, the Social Democrats lost by over 4.5 million votes to a party with a campaign remarkably similar to that of this year’s Republican nominee.
The leader of the winning party in Germany in 1932 had no real experience in governance but was brilliant at using modern media to promote himself. Though he referred to the Church in his speeches as the “foundation of the moral and ethical life of our people,” he only pretended to be a Christian and was himself without any religious faith. He advocated nativism and xenophobia, appealing to the fear of others by those who considered themselves to be his true countrymen. He attacked the free press and the courts and other institutions. He roused the crowds who flocked to him with speeches filled with falsehoods and promises impossible to keep. He brooked no dissent, demonizing anyone who might disagree with him. He incited his followers with veiled suggestions of violence. He argued that the people needed a strong man to lead them and that he was the only one who could make his country great again.
That man, of course, was Adolph Hitler.
Within three months of the election of 1932, Hitler as the new Chancellor of the German Republic secured passage of a decree suspending civil liberties. Six months later, he declared himself Führer.
I believe that our republic is well-established enough that Donald Trump, if elected, would not be successful ultimately in suspending our civil liberties. I have faith that our system of checks and balances and separation of powers would work in the end to prevent the more dangerous excesses he has proposed.
But it is easy to imagine the many ways that a President Trump would cause the worst Constitutional crises to have confronted our Country since the Civil War:
What happens when the military refuses to follow a Commander-in-Chief’s orders on the grounds that they are illegal?
What happens when a President engages in suppression of free speech that is critical of him?
What happens when a President refuses to obey an order of the Supreme Court?
I totally understand why so many of my friends are opposed to another Clinton in the White House. We all are sick of the cronyism, the slick dancing around the edges of what is ethical, the presumptuous entitlement to power by the consummate Washington insiders.
But I am scared of what would happen with Trump as President, and I am not scared of having another President Clinton.
In my lifetime, America was most prosperous and at peace during the presidency of Bill Clinton.
For the eight years Clinton was in office, the economy soared. We enjoyed the largest peacetime economic expansion in our history. Both unemployment and inflation were at historic lows. The deficit was reduced by $600 billion. Taxes were cut for 15 million low and middle income families and for 90% of small businesses. Welfare rolls were slashed. The crime rate plummeted. Through diplomatic engagement and limited interventions in world affairs, Clinton kept our Country at peace and was relatively effective at fighting terrorism.
I believe that an administration led by Hillary Clinton would not be much different from one led by Bill Clinton, and I can live with that.
Donald Trump has never governed. With no record for us to rely on, we must take him at his word as to how he would govern. And many of his words are scary, appearing to be the late night musings of an unhinged mind.
He has said that he would order the use of torture techniques “a hell of a lot worse” than waterboarding, because “torture works,” and even “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway.” He has said that he would not only go after terrorists, but would also “take out their families.”
Torture and the intentional killing of non-combatant family members would be crimes against humanity. The military would be required not to follow unlawful orders, yet when asked about this, Trump stated, “They’re not going to refuse me … If I say ‘Do it,’ they’re going to do it.”
In a national security briefing, Trump asked not once, but three times, “Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?” He has said that he would order the U.S. military to fire on Iranians who made rude gestures at them.
There have been so many outrageous statements made by Trump that we have lost track of them.
Though it has received very little attention, in what is perhaps his craziest proposal, Trump has said that he would be okay with Japan and South Korea obtaining nuclear weapons so that they wouldn’t have to rely on us for defense.
Since World War II, it has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy, under both Democrats and Republicans, that we should work to stop the proliferation of nuclear arms.
It would be unbelievably irresponsible if a candidate for Congress were to suggest that the nuclear arming of Japan and South Korea were acceptable. It is unthinkably irresponsible coming from the Republican nominee for President.
There is one large category of statements made by Trump that constitute one huge outrage: his promises.
Trump’s promises are difficult to address, because there are no specifics. His position seems always to be: “Just believe me, I’m going to make it happen.”
How does he propose to leave Social Security and Medicare as is, increase the military budget, rebuild America’s infrastructure, spend close to $200 billion on immigration enforcement, and cut taxes (especially for the very rich) by trillions of dollars?
“Just believe me, I’m going to make it happen.”
Budget analysts uniformly agree that the only way to accomplish Trump’s promises would be to incur a National deficit of at least $12 trillion and, more likely, up to $25 trillion. That is an enormous and unprecedented debt for us to leave to our children and grandchildren.
To my Republican friends who say, “Okay, oppose Trump, but don’t become a Democrat,” this is my response.
If I had been in Germany in 1932, it would not have been enough simply to oppose the National Socialists’ candidate. Despite whatever differences I may have had with the Social Democrats, I would have joined them as the opposition party most likely to succeed.
And so, I have joined the Democratic Party, the opposition party most likely to succeed against Trump.
I pledge to do what I can to encourage the Democratic Party in Virginia to be neither liberal nor conservative, but a party that supports moderate Virginia Democrats like Mark Warner, Owen Pickett, Don Beyer and Bill Spong.
I understand and respect that my good Republican friends, people like Jeff Sili and Susan Sili, will not leave their party. Theirs is not the party of Donald Trump. It is the party of Virginians like Jim Gilmore, John Warner, Ed Gillespie and Dick Obenshain. It is the party of national leaders like Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole and John McCain.
To my good Republican friends, I would say two things:
- Please don’t support or vote for Donald Trump. If you can’t vote for Clinton, vote for the Libertarian ticket featuring two former Republican governors.
- I respect your decisions to remain Republicans, and I have faith that you will dedicate yourselves going forward to a serious reform of your party, which is obviously in need of fixing.
While I am on the subject, let me suggest one reform the Republicans should make that would be consistent with conservative principles and would broaden the party’s appeal: Acknowledge the possibility that human activity is causing climate change.
Especially to young Americans, the cop-out “I am not a scientist” rings hollow.
On August 31st, I was in Virginia Beach as an instructor at the annual retraining for graduates of the Virginia Forensic Science Academy, where I presented a case study of the investigation and prosecution of James Todd Kessler, whom we convicted of murder without a body based largely on scientific evidence.
I am not a scientist, but I was able to present to the jury in Kessler’s case, and they were able to understand, enough of the science involved in DNA testing and cell-phone triangulation to appreciate their usefulness in discerning the truth.
Science has saved the lives of many people I love who have been stricken with diseases like cancer and diabetes.
I believe in science.
I believe the scientists who say that the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are rising and that this is causing our planet to get hotter.
I believe the scientists who say that the polar ice caps are melting and that the oceans are rising.
I believe the scientists who say that, as the planet gets hotter and the oceans rise, we will see increasingly catastrophic weather events.
NASA has sent men to the moon and space probes to the edge of our solar system, and I believe the scientists at NASA when they say that the theory of climate change caused by human activity has been proven to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty.
To my Republican friends with doubts about the science of climate change, I would say, “What does it mean to be a conservative? And what if the science is right?”
We all know that a conservative financial plan is one which emphasizes low risks over high growth. Likewise, a conservative plan for utilizing the earth’s resources should emphasize low risks over high growth.
We should not gamble with the futures of our children and grandchildren on the chance that the scientists are wrong. The risk is too great. We must be conservative.
If the scientists are right about climate change and we ignore their warnings, the threat we face from terrorism will be nothing compared to the increasing death and destruction we will see from more powerful and frequent hurricanes and tornadoes, worse flooding and drought, and the spread of more diseases like Ebola and Zika.
Donald Trump has stated on numerous occasions that the science of climate change is “a hoax.” If he is elected President and dictates our environmental policies, it is our children who will pay the price.
Once a month my wife, Danielle, teaches Sunday School at our church. The lesson book we use is called “Weaving God’s Promises for Children,” and the lesson Danielle taught last month was entitled “The Earth is Rich with Life! Use It Well!”, focused on Genesis 1:26, which reads:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
The lesson spoke of God’s giving us dominion over the Earth, not to use in any way we wish, but left in our care as custodians of His precious creation.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” This is not our Earth; it is God’s, and He will hold us responsible for how well we care for it. See Revelation 11:18.
As Christians and conservatives, we should practice conservation.
With Donald Trump, we must worry for the first time in our history about a presidential candidate’s cozying up to Russia.
Russia under Vladimir Putin is not our ally. Putin has increased the deployment of long range bombers and submarines carrying nuclear warheads; he has invaded neighboring countries, and he has ruthlessly suppressed political dissent. It has become routine for Russia to engage with the People’s Republic of China in joint military exercises in Asia and the Pacific.
Russia is the greatest threat to our national security, according to America’s top military leaders, including General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Perhaps the greatest threat we face from Russia is in cyber space.
I have seen the emotional and financial devastation caused by computer hackers to people in Caroline County, Virginia.
Regardless of what might be found in a person’s email accounts, we must never condone a foreign government’s hacking into the accounts of American citizens.
Hacking is a very serious crime, and to encourage it is tantamount to being an accessory to crime. To encourage a foreign government’s hacking into email accounts that contain classified information is tantamount to treason.
If Donald Trump were elected President, the world would become a much more dangerous place. Islamic terrorists would reap a recruiting bonanza.
After 9/11, President Bush was right to beseech us not to demonize American citizens whose place of worship is a mosque. The greatest threat to us from terrorism does not come from outside our borders; it comes from home-grown terrorists.
We should be working to join our efforts with those of good Muslims in our Country to reduce the threat of home-grown terrorists, rather than alienating our Muslim citizens and providing ammunition to those who would try to radicalize them.
There is a reason that the leaders of ISIS have expressed their desire for Trump to win the election.
About Trump’s campaign slogan, let me say this: America is great now!
Danielle and I have travelled throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, and nowhere in the world compares to the United States. We enjoy more individual rights and liberties than the people of any other country. We have more freedom to criticize our government. Our gasoline is the cheapest, and our roads are the best in the world. We have an abundance of food and clean water greater than anywhere else.
And we enjoy the world’s greatest economy.
Without exaggerating, I can say that I personally have known thousands of Americans with a product or service to offer who have been successful in starting their own businesses, whether it was a small-town café, a landscaping service, a hair salon, a mechanic’s shop, a boat charter, or a law office. These folks not only provide for their families; they create jobs for others.
We should strive always to create a more perfect Union, but we should also be offended when a man born into wealth, who has spent his adult life bilking creditors and bankrupting companies, has the audacity to say that America is not great.
When I started this post, I did not know I would have so much to say. Let me finish with this.
Think of decency.
The Republican nominee has spent his adult life pursuing his own self-interests, refusing to pay his debts, and hurting thousands of people by enriching himself while watching his businesses go bankrupt.
These are not values I want instilled in my children.
I do not want my nine-year-old daughter, Josie, and my three-year-old son, Charlie, to grow up in a world where our President:
- has mocked a disabled reporter suffering from a rare neuro-muscular disorder;
- has belittled the military service of John McCain, a Vietnam War P.O.W. and hero who was shot down by a missile over Hanoi while flying his 23rd bombing mission (“He’s not a war hero … I like people who weren’t captured”);
- has said “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart,” without considering how many disabled veterans would rather not have gotten the Purple Heart;
- has made a veiled suggestion that, if he loses the election, people should consider shooting the new President or those she nominates for the Supreme Court;
- has bragged on national television about the size of his penis;
- has made reference to a debate moderator’s menstruating;
- has argued that the lone female who was running for the Republican nomination was too ugly to win (“Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? … Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”);
- has called women “fat,” “pig,” “dog,” “slob,” or “disgusting animal,” and;
- has said “It doesn’t really matter what [reporters] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
Words have meaning, and we all suffer adverse consequences when our public discourse turns ugly. And now, for the first time in our history, we are confronted by the possibility that the public statements of a President could be so ugly and vulgar when, more than ever, an open dialogue between different interests is so crucial.
Josie is precocious, and she has heard some of what has been said during this election. Last June, when she was still only eight years old, she thought she was being funny when she pointed at a good friend of hers, a black girl on her track team, and quoted Donald Trump, saying, “Look at my African-American.”
Danielle had to scold Josie and tell her that she must not repeat things Donald Trump has said.
Do we really want a President whose words, if used by our children, require scolding?
For me, this election is about who will be the President for the next four or eight years of my children’s lives.
My objections to Donald Trump go far beyond the fact that he does not share our American and Judeo-Christian values. I am truly afraid of what would happen if he were President.
The leaders of America’s allies are so worried about the safety of the world, they have taken the unusual step of commenting on the American election, expressing their fervent hopes that Trump does not become the next President of the United States. The leaders of ISIS, the Ku Klux Klan, and Russia have also gone on record as to who they would like to win: Donald Trump.
With the world’s greatest military and largest nuclear arsenal at his command, a President cannot be a person who makes snap decisions or has a tendency to lash out; he or she must be steady and well-informed.
If we take him at his word, Trump as President would present a clear and present danger to our Constitution.
The Democratic nominee has her problems, but she would never make dangerous suggestions like Japan and South Korea should obtain nuclear weapons or the United States should engage in torture or the intentional killing of non-combatant family members.
The Democratic nominee takes seriously the potentially horrific threat of climate change. We cannot afford a President who dismisses the warnings of our scientists as a “hoax.”
The Clintons may be liberals, but they’re not socialists, and the Country did very well with the first President Clinton’s administration. The promises Trump has made, without specifics, would be impossible to keep without incurring a crushing deficit.
It would be recklessly foolish to turn over the administration of our government to a man who has spent his entire adult life sucking money out of businesses that fail.
Like the Germans in 1932, we live in a troubled time. And like them, we will be going to the polls in November to vote in a landmark election, one from which there may be no turning back.
To my friends who are patriots and Christians, I respectfully ask that you vote for the opposition candidate with the best chance to defeat Donald Trump. I am asking you to vote for Hillary Clinton.