“President Trump is a failed leader. He will go down in history as the worst president ever.”
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“I grew up in Austria,” he said. “I’m very aware of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass. It was a night of rampage against the Jews carried out in 1938 by the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys. Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States.”
“The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol. But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol. They shattered the ideas we took for granted. They did not just break down the doors of the building that housed American democracy. They trampled the very principles on which our country was founded.”
The 73-year-old offered a personal story he’d never shared publicly before because it was such a painful memory.
“I grew up in the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of its democracy. I was born in 1947, two years after the Second World War. Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history. Not all of them were rabid anti-Semites or Nazis. Many just went along, step by step, down the road.”
“My father would come home drunk once or twice a week, and he would scream, and hit us, and scare my mother. I didn’t hold him totally responsible because our neighbor was doing the same thing to his family, and so was the next neighbor over,” he continued.
“I heard it with my own ears and saw it with my own eyes. They were in physical pain from the shrapnel in their bodies and in emotional pain for what they saw or did. It all started with lies, and lies, and lies, and intolerance. So, being from Europe, I’ve seen firsthand how things can spin out of control.”
He then connected Trump’s lies to the ones told by the Nazis, saying, “President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies. My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead.”
He called Trump a “failed leader” who “will go down in history as the worst president ever.” He offered the silver lining that Trump “will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet.”
Arnold also condemned the politicians who helped Trump get to this point. “John F. Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles in Courage. A number of members of my own party, because of their own spinelessness, would never see their names in such a book.”
He offered a plea for people of all political affiliations to come together. “We need to look past ourselves, our parties, and disagreements, and put our democracy first. We need to heal, not just as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans.”
And he concluded his speech with a warning to domestic terrorists and their sympathizers. “To those who think they can overturn the United States Constitution, know this: You will never win.”