Special thanks to Gage Skidmore for use of a cropped version of his photo, which appears on Russell Bowers’ Wikipedia page.
I’ve been pretty busy since I got home from Belgium yesterday, and because I woke up feeling a little icky this morning, I needed a nap. However, I did manage to read one article about the Arizona House Speaker and Republican who put his foot down against Donald Trump and his goons, who insisted that Biden won the presidential election fraudulently. Bowers had voted for Donald Trump and campaigned for him. But he was unwilling to violate the law for him by overturning the 2020 Arizona election results. Rudy Giuliani, a man who was once lauded for the way he handled 9/11 as the Mayor of New York City, came to Bowers and tried to convince him to cheat for Trump. Giuliani told Bowers they had “theories” but no evidence, that the 2020 results were “rigged” against Donald Trump.
Bowers, who is an artist, storyteller, and devout Mormon, declared that he would not be fixing the results of the election in Trump’s favor. He explained that his faith teaches that the Constitution is divinely inspired, and he took an oath to uphold it. He would NOT be violating his oath for Trump, even though Trump was the candidate he supported. When Giuliani and his lawyer, Jenna Ellis, as well as other Arizona GOP lawmakers pressed him, Bowers said no. And when he testified in Washington, DC about what happened in January 2021, Bowers reiterated. According to the Washington Post:
“I will not do that, and,” Bowers testified, pausing to control his emotions. “On more than one — on more than one occasion throughout all this it has been brought up. And it is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired — of my most basic foundational beliefs. And so for me to do that because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being.
“I will not do it.”
Because Bowers wouldn’t cheat for Trump, he was subjected to death threats and protests. People openly ridiculed him, even mocking him in parades. Trump supporters pushed to recall Bowers, passing out flyers falsely accusing him of child molestation and corruption. Bowers’ daughter, Kacey, was dying as her father was being maligned. His wife, a strong, silent, valiant woman, was standing by as people attacked her husband for simply doing his job and refusing to violate his oath. Kacey died January 28, 2021, and Bowers wonders if her death was hastened by the stress of dealing with Trump supporters who wanted him to “win” by cheating.
On August 2, Bowers faces a new election, and it looks likely that he will lose. However, I think even if he loses, he’s already won, by doing the RIGHT thing and not bowing to pressure. Bowers is a man of religious faith, a strong believer in Mormonism, which I know has its problems. But one thing Bowers can rest assured of is that he has integrity and decency. He may not be re-elected in Arizona politics, but he can hold his head high, because Trump supporters WILL be on the WRONG side of history, just as Hitler supporters were. The more that comes out about what was going on in Washington, DC during Trump’s tenure, the more it becomes clear to me that the man is a menace. And there will come a day when people won’t want to associate with him.
When Bowers was testifying, he read from a journal entry he wrote in December 2020:
“I may, in the eyes of men, not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions, but I do not take this current situation in a light manner, a fearful manner or a vengeful manner,” he said. “I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to. With any contrived desire toward deflection of my deep, foundational desire to follow God’s will as I believe he led my conscience to embrace. How else will I ever approach him in the wilderness of life knowing that I ask this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course … he led me to take.”
I’m not a big fan of religion, and I’m really not a fan of Mormonism… but I would say that if the Mormon version of God influenced Bowers to do the right thing by his office, that’s certainly one point in its favor as a belief system. I wish there weren’t so many other issues with the church… like the way it treats people who are homosexual, or don’t want to be LDS anymore… divorced and single women, and the way some members feel emboldened to do Baptisms for the Dead for people who clearly had no interest in Mormonism. On the other hand, there were decent people in the church who helped younger daughter escape her mother’s abusive clutches. So my opinions about Mormonism have softened somewhat for that reason… and reading about Rusty Bowers doing the right thing because of his faith is another reason. Also, I see in his photo that he has a nice smile… probably because he doesn’t drink coffee, tea, or red wine. 😉
Personally, I don’t think it was the church that led to this decision. I think Bowers is simply a good and decent man who plays by the rules. I don’t think a person has to be a believer in a deity to be decent or good. But if having strong religious faith helps one decide to do the right thing, I’m all for it. On the other hand, I know there are many men of “faith” who would have justified cheating for Trump as “God’s will”, the same way they justified his election– a man who is about as far from decent and good as a person can get.
I wish Rusty Bowers well… not just because he’s an honorable, honest, and patriotic man, but also because he has the same nickname my beloved pony had. If it turns out he loses the next election, I hope he will go on to do something rewarding for himself and his wife. I’m sure they need time to heal, especially having lost their daughter during that awful time. Maybe now is a good time to jump off the sinking Trump version of the Republican ship.
If there were more Republicans like Rusty around, I might consider voting for them again. Sadly, too many Republicans are more concerned about money and power and not pissing off a narcissistic asshole than being decent and honorable. Shame on them.
Donald Trump is a criminal who needs to go to prison. I doubt it will ever happen, but I sure would vote for it. The more I read about what happened after Trump LOST the election, the angrier I get that he was ever allowed to run for president. We’ve GOT to do better.
ETA: I read that Mr. Bowers would still vote for Trump if he ran against Biden, and I think that’s not a good thing. But I also think people should be free to vote their consciences. Like I said– I don’t agree with his politics or his religion, but I appreciate that he was brave enough and had enough integrity to uphold his oath. That is admirable, given the pressure he was under not to do right by the American people and Arizona.