I was born in England in 1948. I met and married an American (this year is our 50th wedding anniversary!) and emigrated to the U.S. in 1978. I am now 76 years old. In all those years, in order to retain a job or anything else that was important or dear to me, I have never once been required to subscribe to something I knew to be untrue.

It was Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican National Committee that set me thinking about this. Specifically, the news that to keep their jobs Republican National Committee staffers must support the “Big Lie” that the last election was stolen. And now Mike Johnson, speaker of the House, has made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago and does the same.

Over 60 lawsuits, many of them adjudicated by Republican-appointed judges, and some of them by Trump-appointed judges, have dismissed these claims. There is no credible evidence of fraud, let alone fraud at a level that would have altered the outcome of the election. Trump’s close aids repeatedly told him this. Most Republicans know this. But to retain certain jobs you must endorse the lie.

I woke up recently at 3 a.m. and had trouble getting back to sleep. I was wondering how I would react if forced to support a blatant falsehood in order to hang onto something important to me. I’d like to think I would refuse to do this, but history tells us I probably would not: most choose a quiet life over taking significant financial or other risks for truth and honesty.

And then I began to wonder how this must be affecting Susan Collins, someone who has devoted her life to a Republican Party which now rejects many of the core values that have been central to her political identity. Or how any of us would respond to this kind of challenge. How big does the lie have to be before we take a stand? When and how do we find the courage to choose self-respect over protecting those things and people that are dear to us?

I am so lucky to have not once been forced to make this choice. I hope to live out the rest of my days in a society where this never becomes an accepted part of everyday life.


Nigel Calder


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