10 November 2008

Voting for the Party of Patriotism

The military vote may not be the largest voting bloc in America, but its coveted by politicians across the country because "Supporting the Troops" is about as non-controversial and gratifying a statement to a voting public as "America Rocks". But, the military is a fairly diverse cross-section of people, therefore the opinions on politics are going to be all over the spectrum. That's why Peter Kauffman's article at Politico about the military lurching way to the left is rather bizarre:

For decades, Republicans have worked to perfect the art of lapel pin patriotism – creating and exploiting iconic imagery for political gain while neglecting the substantive needs of our veterans. We see the devastating effect of this focus on rhetoric over reality in the dismal treatment of our wounded heroes at Walter Reed, attempts to block the new GI Bill, and the Bush Administration’s failure to adequately fund mental health care.

For all the GOP’s patriotic imagery and testosterone-infused rhetoric, the sad truth is that most of the current crop of Republican leaders – Rudy Giuliani; Mitt Romney; Newt Gingrich; Mitch McConnell; John Boehner; etc. – were all of age at the time of Vietnam but avoided serving in the military.
Whether or not a politician tries to win the majority of military votes with something as chintzy as a lapel pin isn't saying much for the troops. The "not being a chickenhawk" issue may sway some votes as well, but it doesn't always apply. Robert Gates (SECDEF) only served a couple years in the Air Force during Vietnam and he is well respected, while a war hero like Rep. Murtha frequently gets called an asshole by veterans.

I'm a pretty big NoBama guy, and there are others in the military that have similar concerns, but trying to lay a claim to a voting bloc from all generations and all parts of the country just ain't gonna happen. Give it up, pundits.