Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Politicizing the Military - smart?

No, it isn’t the Republicans this time. Back to one of my favorite subjects, as a matter of fact, the subject of my second post ever back in '04: the disconnect between the “elite” and the military. Sure, we have a mix of folks from the Upper and Upper-middle class in the military, but the elite in general, and the Leftist elite in particular, have over the last 30+ years made a conscience effort to separate themselves from the military, and as a result the military from them. From the subtle “why do you want to kill babies, attitude to the more direct desire to keep ROTC off campus – they complain that the military is Southern, Western, and very Red State but do nothing to encourage their friends, cohorts or children to serve. Just the opposite – they actively discourage service.

In an interesting bit in The Washington Times, the Democrats brought in Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer, the authors of the new book “AWOL: the Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service – and How it Hurts Our Country.” This came out 06 JUN by Eric Pfeiffer, but I can’t find it online. They have ID’d the problem well, but they are making a critical mistake – they are looking at the military as just another constituent group. This is fatal. A military BS Meter will immediately go off if they smell any type of pandering, or paternalism. Sure, it may sound good, and some will take the bait – but on balance it is much larger. I had more than one professional acquaintance who, after the ’92 election actively went after DC jobs just to work with the new party in power, and came away, not Republicans, but disillusioned Democrats. The lack of respect and in many cases outright hostility they experienced by Administration officials set them back.

Like I wrote almost two years ago – I would love for more Upper to Upper-middle class in the military. I am lucky, I was brought up in Prep Schools and I am tired of being the “Why are you in the military…” guy at High School reunions. No one understands field hockey.

Here are some juicy points.
Mrs. Rother-Douquet and Mr. Schaeffer said it would be beneficial to have military officers visit congressional offices.
Umm, no. The Congressmen should go visit the troops like many of their peers have. And stay for a week. Just not at my UIC, please.
Yesterday’s discussion was sponsored by the Truman National Security Project, a Washington think tank that declares its aim is to boost Democrats’national security credentials” through an “innovative, distinctly Democratic approach to national security.”
Deeds, not words.
It wasn’t necessarily Democrats spitting on the troops when they returned home,” Mr. Schaeffer said. “But those events are certainly more associated wit the left.”

An unidentified Democratic staffer in attendance said, “When you get down to it, most military values are really Democratic values,” which received a warm applause from the estimated two dozen fellow staffers in attendance. Mrs. Roth Douquet said she agreed with the statement – but when asked if politicizing military values was dangerous, added, “The military shouldn’t be an institution that belongs to either party.”
Amen. The Democrats are making a mistake. The military isn’t a “constituency” like others in US politics that you can deal with like it is just another bit of the electoral pie you can seduce with “constituency politics.”

If the Democrats want to better balance the military, it isn’t a political solution. Trust me, you don’t want to further politicize the military – it isn’t healthy for a Representative Republic. It is a long-term project. Open your schools. Encourage your peers and their children to join. It is a crop that will take decades to grow. Whatever you do though, stop what you are trying to do now. The military should NEVER be looked at like another political constituency that can be bought off – by the Right or Left.

Listen to Mr. Schaeffer. Frank Schaeffer’s book about coming to terms with his son joining the USMC is on the required reading list.

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