By Maj. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr., United States Air Force (retired)
I am one of nearly 800 national security leaders who have endorsed Joe Biden for president. I will vote for him on November 3rd, and I urge all Floridians to join me.
I have had Florida on my mind quite a bite recently. I have spent more days, weeks, and summers in Florida than I can remember. My mother was born and raised in Clearwater. She moved north and had a family, but after she and my father retired, my parents spent the rest of their lives in Clearwater. We still have many cousins, aunts and uncles spread across Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. Among my most enjoyable assignments was my time serving as Commander of Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach.
My parents did not make a great deal of money, but we were comfortable, safe, and happy. From them, we learned the value of empathy, the importance of teamwork, and how to persevere when times are tough. I enlisted in the Air Force and worked my way up through the ranks, ultimately becoming a two-star general. I credit my success to my parents and the values they taught us.
During my time in uniform, I had the honor of working in the White House for both Republican and Democratic administrations. Like many of you, I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats. Also, like many of you, when this president was elected, I told my friends, “He’s the commander in chief for us all. Give him a chance.” Well, we did give him a chance, and he did not meet the challenge.
As a retired military officer, I was hopeful when he hired an outstanding cabinet, including retired generals and former CEOs, but he did not listen to them. After they left, beaten down and discouraged, he belittled them.
My parents believed that if you work hard and do the right things, you can afford to own a home, raise a family, and pay bills without worry. On President Trump’s watch, I see that promise of a modest American dream, slipping away. Amid the pandemic, Florida has lost 1.2 million — and gained only a few of those back. Even before the coronavirus, Florida’s poverty rate was on the rise.
I was at work in the White House as a member of National Security Council staff on 9/11, and supported President George W. Bush as he rallied our country to face a serious threat. He sought to bring our nation together, not pit us against one another. To me, the Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest threat to our national security since the end of the Cold War. Why? Because Covid has killed more Americans than the wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East combined — including more than 15,000 Floridians. We have hundreds of deaths a day, yet still no comprehensive, coherent national plan to aggressively respond to this threat.
I have never taken a public stand on any election, but this is different. Too much is at stake. What we need in the White House is a leader who does not mock or insult people who disagree with him. Joe Biden has a history of reaching across the aisle or across borders to work with others to face complex problems.
Joe Biden is a “working-class guy” who has not forgotten his roots. Like my parents, he respects military service — his son served in Iraq with the National Guard — has persevered through personal tragedy and believes in the promise of an American dream for each of us. Joe helped lead the nation from the depths of a recession to a booming economy.
I encourage you to vote for the man who embodies the values we were raised to believe. Vote for the man who knows our lives and who cares when we suffer. Vote for the man with empathy, the man who will face facts and fight this pandemic. Vote for the man who can unite this country, the man with a proven record of leadership: Joe Biden.
Major General Edward L. Bolton Jr. is retired from the United States Air Force.