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Threatened with death by Trumpists, a Republican recounts his hell

For three years, Bill Gates has been living in hell with heavy psychological repercussions. From the comfort of his office in Arizona, this namesake of the co-founder of Microsoft still sometimes “struggles to accept” his post-traumatic stress disorder: while overseeing the 2020 presidential election, this convinced Republican did not expect to suffering from an ailment he associated with traumatized veterans.

But the extraordinary poll of 2020 turned his peaceful life upside down. For having refused to accredit the lies of outgoing President Donald Trump and having validated his defeat in the most populous county of Arizona, the fifty-something has suffered a deluge of pressure and threats. “My therapist told me, ‘You have post-traumatic stress. You didn’t have bullets whizzing over your head, but you experienced significant trauma, in a very public way,’” he told AFP. “Your integrity is something very important to you and it has been questioned daily, (…) your family has been threatened and you have been threatened. »

Death threats, “a kind of constant background noise”

Joe Biden outstripped Donald Trump by barely 10,000 votes in Arizona at the end of 2020. This key state in the southwestern United States has since remained at the center of conspiracy theories assuring that the election was stolen.

The council overseeing Maricopa County, where Bill Gates sits, has focused the attacks. Despite repeated pressure from the Trumpist fringe of the Republican Party, he certified the results. Labeled a “traitor” by his own camp, the curator endured many waves of harassment.

On his mailbox, his phone or social networks, “the death threats have become a kind of constant background noise”, testifies this father of three children. “We have received some of the most vile threats you can imagine, one person tweeted that our daughters should be raped. His family had to leave their home temporarily on several occasions for security reasons.

“My fellow Republicans think I’m a traitor”

Recount, audit, judicial investigation: all the procedures carried out in Arizona concluded that there was no fraud. Over the course of these psychodramas, this Harvard-educated lawyer felt “betrayed” by his political family and accumulated resentment.

In May 2022, he imploded after delivering the eulogy for a friend, also a member of the “Grand Old Party”. At the reception following the funeral, he fumed to a relative, pointing to the other Republicans in the audience, who had never come to his rescue.

The next day, his wife asks him to go to therapy. She no longer recognizes this husband who has lost sleep, appetite and sense of humor, and sometimes cries in an interview with the press.

“I was just filled with anger,” he explains. “I physically felt like a cartoon character, all red inside. The chosen one, who had never been in therapy, found it a precious help to put his fate into perspective.

“I made my peace with that,” he continues. “I can’t control the fact that some of my fellow Republicans think I’m a traitor, or that others have just been too cowardly to defend me. »

Fears about the future election of 2024

This psychological help allowed him to face a new eventful poll in Arizona. Because in November, the midterm elections were disrupted by technical problems with some electoral machines in Maricopa County. Enough to feed accusations of rigging on the part of the beaten Trumpists, dismissed by the courts.

“No one was deprived of their right to vote”, hammers Bill Gates, after having managed the problem in all transparency in front of the media of the whole world. In his post, he must still supervise the presidential election of 2024, for which the polls predict a new confrontation between Trump and Biden.

Before this election, the Republican remains “concerned” about the poisonous atmosphere and misinformation that persist in the United States. After breaking the silence, he encourages his counterparts to take care of their mental health.

“Many other election workers have experienced the same thing as me,” he recalls, worrying about early retirements and multiple resignations from such positions. One in four local election officials have already been threatened with violence, according to a poll published in November by the Democracy Fund.

In the four corners of the country, these crucial functions for guaranteeing the integrity of an election are sometimes coveted by openly conspiratorial candidates. “We are far from out of the woods,” warns Bill Gates. “The 2024 election is really important for the future of this democracy. »

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