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A plea from Frank W. Fox, professor of American history, life-long conservative, and patriot, to members of the LDS faith:
Dear Sister or Brother,
My name is Prof. Frank W. Fox. I taught American History at Brigham Young University until my retirement in 2006, and, along with my colleague Clayne Pope, created the university’s American Heritage Program, under the guidance of the First Presidency. Some of you may have been my students. I also wrote a biography of President J. Reuben Clark, also under the direction of the First Presidency.
Both of these experiences grew out of my love for our country and my lifelong devotion to American ideals. For those same reasons, I am writing this letter to share with you my deep concern about the approaching election. Although I am a conservative Republican, I will not be voting for Donald Trump in November. I would like to explain why.
For me, the choice is not between Republican or Democratic policies, nor between Liberal or Conservative principles. It is a choice growing out of the very nature and being of our democracy—which is far more fragile than most Americans realize. Democracy depends on more than party preferences or individual interests, it depends on critical qualities of mind and spirit. Our Founding Fathers knew this profound truth in the marrow of their bones.
I have the gravest misgivings about certain of those qualities of mind and spirit. I would like to set down a few of these for your consideration.
First, there is the matter of truth-telling. No President of the United States can make falsehood a common, daily practice. No free government can stand on a foundation of lies. False-speaking in the public square will destroy the soul of America as surely as it destroyed the souls of Italy and Germany before World War II. The first requirement of any would-be dictator is the ability to lie convincingly, and the first attribute of a people he intends to enslave is their willingness to believe his lies.
Second, Mr. Trump has preached fear and divisiveness among the American people, then used these raw emotions to create a mindless, militant personal following. With this private army, which believes every word he utters, he holds the Republicans of both houses under his thumb—some of them in sheer terror— thus destroying the Constitution’s single most important check and balance. This is precisely how democracies have met their end from ancient times to the present.
Third, in a democracy no one can be above the law, not even the President. Mr. Trump seems to reject this crucial principle. He has violated the laws of the United States in large ways and small ones, often with disastrous results. People have gone to prison for the violations he instigated—one of them cynically pardoned by himself! He was impeached for violating the law and would have been convicted if Senators had been free to vote their consciences.
Fourth, no American patriot can maintain an intimate, secret, and possibly dependent relationship with a foreign adversary. It is absolutely unthinkable. There is overwhelming evidence that our President does in fact have such a relationship with Vladimir Putin, and that this relationship has resulted in the undermining of our most sacred institution, free elections. It is so well documented that it is virtually beyond question.
Finally, no President in our history has been guilty of shirking the Chief Executive’s single most important responsibility—that of protecting the people. President Trump’s handing of the COVID pandemic cannot be seen in any other light than a callous disregard for the safety of the American people in the sole interest of furthering his own political advantage. I have studied his every move in this regard, and I have listened to his every excuse. None of them works.
These things are not “just politics.” They are not incidental and harmless. They are not “fake news.” They are beyond all constitutional limits and outside of all historical precedent. I can scroll through every President from George Washington to Barrack Obama without finding a single instance (including Watergate) of misconduct on this scale.
The death of every democracy begins with a stolen election. The tyrant simply rejects the voice of the people and turns instead to power for its own sake— always claiming that the election was “rigged.” If he cannot win legitimately, he will win by any means available to him, and then just keep right on “winning.” That was what happened to Putin’s Russia.
One final comment. It was recently reported that Vice President Pence, in visiting Arizona, intimated that the General Authorities of the LDS Church were quietly supporting the President. I will bet my eternal salvation against that. The values of patriotism, truthfulness, justice, honor, decency and respect for the law are deeply ingrained in LDS culture. Few church members in full possession of the facts would condone what I have described above.
For these and other reasons, my vote is going to Joe Biden in this election—for his balance, for his wisdom, for his humanity, and more than anything else, for his power to heal. Our country is sorely in need of that.
If any of this touches your heart, please help me to spread this vitally important message. The future of our democracy depends on it.
Sincerely, Frank W. Fox
If you have further interest in exploring these issues, please consult the website SaveOurElection.org