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Retired General Backs Biden, Says A 2nd Trump Term Would Put Democracy 'At Risk'

Retired Gen. Chuck Boyd at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., in 2016.
Bud Hancock/USAF
Retired Gen. Chuck Boyd at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., in 2016.

Retired four-star Air Force Gen. Chuck Boyd is one of hundreds of military voices speaking out against President Trump this election. Late last month, Boyd, who fought in Vietnam and spent seven years there as a prisoner of war, joined nearly 500national security leaders who endorsed Democrat Joe Biden.

In a video endorsement, Boyd says that ever since he returned from Vietnam, he has been a Republican, "but quietly." He goes on: "I fervently believe that military officers should not get involved in presidential politics, even when retired. But this year is different."

That's because, Boyd tells NPR, he thinks Trump is a danger to democracy.

"As I watched him over the years, my unease with his presidency has increased. It increased to the point that I believe that our democracy will be in shatters by the time he has served two terms," Boyd says. "While I am reticent about getting involved in presidential politics by any military men, in this case, keeping out of the political process is something I don't feel like I can do."

In the interview, Boyd explains how he came to his decision to endorse Biden.

Interview Highlights

Take us back to the moment you decided that you did need to come forward.

I think the point at which he began telling the American people that the election process itself was fraudulent, that mail-in balloting was a disaster, was terrible. I thought if our citizens lose faith in how they go about electing their leaders, then democracy itself is at risk, at deep risk. That's the point at which I said I've got to get involved in this in some way.

Are there policy decisions or rhetoric that Trump has used over the last four years that makes you concerned about a second Trump term?

What really worries me — and this is one of the objectives of the Russians for a long time — is to cause people to lose faith in democratic processes. A lot of other countries, fragile democracies, look to the United States as an example of democracy in action. And when they see our democratic processes not functioning, then I think other nations lose faith in their own process.

A recently published story in The Atlantic used anonymous sources who said Trump called members of the U.S. military who died in war "suckers" and "losers," and on another occasion on a visit to Arlington cemetery, he reportedly said he didn't understand "What was in it for them?" Trump has denied these statements. How did you respond to the report?

I found it sickening — and I believe it by the way. To know that the commander in chief holds those who serve in disdain, that's a knife right straight into the heart of any military man. ... To call those people suckers is one of the most disgusting things I can imagine. That's one of the reasons I've made the commitment to support and endorse Joe Biden for president.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.