War Heroes

Too often in recent history, Republicans have run war heroes under the false notion that their exemplary character allows them to deflect substantive policy accusations.  The pattern goes like this:

  • CANDIDATE: I’m _____________, I’m running for _______________, and I served __ years in the ___<<military branch>>___ (and fought in the _______war[s]).
  • OPPONENT: I respect Mr. _______’s service   The problem is, Mr. ______ supports ___<<ridiculously wasteful government expenditure>>___ and we just cannot afford it without wrecking our economy because…..
  • CANDIDATE: I have fought for this country for ___years proving that I love this country and that’s why you have to believe me when I say we need ___<<ridiculously wasteful government expenditure>>___.

What a great way to engage in a substantive policy debate?  Sound familiar?

This is how we get Presidential candidates making careers on opposing wasteful pork barrel spending only to support $150 billion of pork on top of $700 billion to address a perceived credit crisis.  That’s right, no talk of economic pros or cons, just: “I fought for this country and I am doing what’s best regardless of politics.”  So much for fighting for a country where we can have opposition politics over critical matters such as these.

This is not to say that we have no respect for war heroes.  We love our veterans.  We certainly respect their service, but if we expect to have strong candidates we must not let our candidates use military records as an excuse to disengage from substantive policy debates.   This tactic does the country a great disservice.

Finally, it must be noted that most Americans under 50 did not live through a draft (yet).  In light of the volunteer military, these Americans have a different view of the military and military serviceman than Americans over the age of 50.  These younger Americans view all politicians (former servicemen or not) with the same degree of skepticism and demand substantive arguments, not argumenta ad hominem.


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