There is not enough room below to catalog all the things Christopher Suprun has been called since Monday, when the Republican presidential elector said in the virtual pages of The New York Times that he would not vote for Donald Trump on Dec. 19.
“If Donald Trump still wins, I will go into the history books as an asterisk,” Suprun said Tuesday. A slight grin. “And people can use other A-words to describe me.”
They have. They will. And they will not stop there.
Since Monday he has been called “traitor,” “idiot,” “coward,” “a disgrace to Texas,” “another corrupt establishment dirt bag,” “attention whore” – the list goes on. He has been told to vote Trump or be prepared to get chased out of Texas, where he has lived for close to 13 years.
And he has been accused of being paid off by billionaire George Soros, who’s given tens of millions to the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton and was wrongly accused of funding the protests that erupted nationwide following Trump’s election last month.
“See this? A 1994 Volkswagen,” Suprun said when we parted ways Tuesday afternoon. “Paid off? Riiiight.”
Which is to say nothing of the death threats made against the local paramedic, of which there have also been many – some directed at him on Twitter, others buried in the darkest, slimiest corners of the Web. There are wanted posters featuring his image, and warnings that “you might consider moving to Cuba (because) I see no future for you in Texas, except at the end of a rope.”
“Some threats are credible; some are not,” he said. “There are people who are supposed to be dealing with that.”
All because Suprun, who was among the first rescue workers on the scene when terrorists attacked the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, said he could not in good conscience write the words “Donald J. Trump” on a piece of paper Dec. 19.
His reasons are myriad, and were outlined in The Times op-ed that, since its publication online Monday, had been reprinted or reported on in countless media outlets. Here, from our interview, is a primer of sorts:
“It’s been the buildup. It’s not one raindrop that’s caused the flood,” he said. “It’s been the undercutting of the Constitution, the undercutting of the First Amendment, the attacks on people critical of him and the attacks on the election itself. You can’t claim 3 million illegal votes without evidence.”
Which, of course, Trump did. Somewhere in between attacking Alec Baldwin and calling Taiwan’s president and requesting security clearance for a man who peddles dangerously wrong conspiracy theories.
Suprun has been contemplating voting against Trump since August, when he told Politico he was considering rejecting the Republican Party’s nominee because he was “saying things that in an otherwise typical election year would have you disqualified.” He would later rescind that threat, insisting he was indeed going to cast his lot for Trump alongside the other 37 Texas electors.
He said Tuesday that he thought, for a moment, he might be able to get behind Trump. He thought – well, hoped, at least – Trump would release his tax returns. He thought – well, hoped, at least – that Trump would sever ties with his businesses and get off Twitter. He thought, just maybe, the president-elect would act presidential.
“After the election,” Suprun said, “I wanted to do the right thing.”
He and his wife had many long talks about using the opportunity to make a point, to raise some hell. They knew there would be “blowback,” as Suprun likes to say when discussing the online backlash. But in the end, he said, he thought it was the right thing to do. The only thing to do.
The reception to the op-ed hasn’t been entirely negative. Suprun said he’s received hundreds of notes and tweets in support, and emails from well-known constitutional-law professors and attorneys offering to help for free. But there are also old friends who have reached out and asked, in so many words, what the hell?
“I am a dad, husband, parishioner – an average guy,” Suprun said. “I am making a decision that’s bringing me blowback, that people are unhappy with. The worst blowback I am getting, the one I am most confused by, is when people say I am a coward. The coward is the one who has these thoughts, these concerns and just writes down Donald Trump’s name.”
He knows this will stick to him forever. He knew it before the op-ed ran. But so be it, he said. His conscience is clear.
“And life’s gonna go on,” he said. “After the 19th, there will be people who will be unhappy, who will continue to flame me on the internet. And that’s OK.”
Robert Wilonsky is a columnist for the Dallas Morning News. Readers can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.