Guest opinion: Tell the truth: An open letter to Byron Donalds

Rep. Donalds, we, your constituents, believe you are a man of faith and…

Guest opinion: Tell the truth: An open letter to Byron Donalds 1
Guest opinion: Tell the truth: An open letter to Byron Donalds 2

Dear Representative Donalds:

Lest readers assume I am a far left radical, let me make my commitments plain: I am a political moderate who, for years, was an independent voter. I registered as a Democrat a couple years ago for only one reason: to use the primaries to keep Bernie Sanders off the Democratic ticket. In truth, I lean libertarian. My family loves America’s historic commitment to democracy, and we have fought for it: from Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge to the present (currently-serving military and police). My father and I are Eagle Scouts. I am also pro-life; after discovering in utero that our baby has Down Syndrome, my wife and I chose life and welcomed our adorable son six months ago.

As uncomfortable as public self-revelations are for me, I mention them openly and honestly to establish my bona fides among you and your voters, many of whom are proud Americans and evangelical Christians. In two-thousand years of Christian ethics, one thing has not changed: the value and necessity of truth. For Christians, Scripture is unambiguous: we shouldn’t lie. There is no getting around it, it’s not open to interpretation, and for good reason: without respect for the truth, societies cannot function. Without the public trust that truth makes possible, societies devolve into a Hobbesian war of “all against all” where winners are simply those who won the Nietzschean power struggle. Americans of faith and honor reject this notion, believing that truth, not power, is a worthy and fundamental principle around which we must orient our lives.

Rep. Donalds, we, your constituents, believe you are a man of faith and honor. That’s why I voted for you. A man of honor must sometimes make hard decisions. And now we ask you to make one of those hard decisions. We ask you, in the name of the Judeo-Christian values of honesty and truthfulness, to release a statement publicly acknowledging that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, and that there is no evidence of massive voter fraud that would, should, or could overturn the 2020 election. This is the truth, and it has been upheld by over sixty court cases presided over by Trump-appointed judges. In short, Trump’s arguments are wrong – factually, yes, but also morally. When he claims the election was stolen from him through massive voter fraud, Donald Trump is lying.

Equally disturbing, he has taken financial advantage of people in our district – your district – who donated their hard-earned money in support of his false claims since the election. These are my neighbors and fellow churchgoers, people I care about. Of course, we should be gracious and charitable to those who were deceived by Trump’s falsehoods. However, we must request from those who were not deceived to admit that the deception has taken place, and is still taking place. One must not ground an argument for economic conservatism on the foundation of a lie. For Republicans to speak meaningfully against Democrats’ runaway spending in 2022 and 2024, they need to get their house in order. The vote to remove Rep. Cheney and the rejection of an independent, bi-partisan Jan. 6th Commission shows that the Republican house is now built on the sands of Mar-a-Lago, not the solid rock of truth.

Moving forward requires first admitting the mistake — making a bargain with a person who was more dangerous to the rule of law and democracy than you previously thought. Then, have faith in us. Trust your reasonable constituents to see the truth and be persuaded by your dedication to our liberty. In truth, Trump voters made the same bargain. Speaking truth is the only way for conservatives to regain their moral authority. Then, once the truth is absolutely clear, pivot immediately to the dangers of runaway spending. Please, have faith in your constituents that we can accept the truth and pivot with you.

How you handle this fragile and urgent national moment will speak volumes about your character for decades to come. Our country needs to move on, but that cannot happen if we abandon the Judeo-Christian values of honesty and truth-telling.

Please, Rep. Donalds, tell the truth. We can handle it.

Michael McGowan, Ph.D., is a Professor of Philosophy at Florida SouthWestern State College.


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