CPAC: Veterans Against Trump

Conservative opposition to Donald Trump was strong at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Brian Hawkins, a U.S. Army veteran, was representative of that opposition.

In an exclusive interview, Brian told me, “I am opposed to Donald Trump because he does not represent any of the values of conservatism, of the Republican Party, or of American values in general.”

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Holding a “Veterans Against Trump” sign, Brian explained that he had “spent four years in the United States Army, most of which was in the United States Cavalry, hence the cavalry Stetson.”

Holding a “Veterans Against Trump” sign, Brian explained, “I am opposed to Donald Trump because he does not represent any of the values of conservatism, of the Republican Party, or of American values in general.”

Echoing the widespread criticism of Trump’s rhetoric during his campaign, Brian said, “A lot of the language that is coming out of Donald Trump is very nativist and very xenophobic and certainly not [in agreement with] American principles.” He urged, “We need to stop this divisive rhetoric, inflaming hatred toward other people of other groups.”

Brian’s own experiences radically conflict with Trump’s message. Brian hails from Los Angeles, “from a community that’s 80% Hispanic.” He said, “A lot of my friends, their parents came to America illegally and they only really stayed because Ronald Reagan granted amnesty in 1986.”

Moreover, Brian’s experience in the military refutes Trump’s nativist perspective. Brian said, “I spent six months in Afghanistan where I worked with Afghan linguists who put their lives on the line to work with the United States Army and help free the country of the Taliban. They applied to get residency here in the U.S.”

Hence, Brian’s disdain for Trump’s hostile language. Brian clarified, “So, for me, it’s very insulting for Donald Trump to say that these people want to come to America to rape, kill, and do drugs. That’s simply not true.”

Brian’s life experiences offer a counter-Trump narrative:

“Every immigrant I’ve ever run in to, growing up in life or in my experience in the United States Army, they want to come to America to work hard and contribute to the American economy. They understand America as the land of hope and opportunity better than a lot of us Americans do. We really take it for granted being able to live here and all the opportunities that we have. immigrants don’t take that for granted. They understand that America is a land of freedom and economic opportunity for all people. They just want to come here and help contribute to the American Dream. We need to welcome them.”

Brian concluded, “That’s why I oppose Donald Trump, because he does not represent those principles of inclusiveness and economic growth that the Republican Party stands for.”

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