Monday, May 28, 2012

Veterans like Republicans. What else is new?

So on this Memorial Day one of the lead stories is a new Gallup poll showing Romney will a large lead over Obama among military veterans -- 58 to 34.

Apparently, veterans like the fact that Romney is likely to produce more veterans than Obama, who has indicated that there won't be any more wars unless "absolutely necessary."

Yes, veterans seem to like a bit of warmongering in their presidents, and Obama, who ended the Iraq War and is ending the Afghan one, isn't nearly enough of a militarist. No matter that Obama actually cares about the well-being of veterans (rather than just using them as props, as Republicans often do), even calling it a "disgrace" the disrespect Vietnam vets endured when they returned home. Apparently veterans prefer presidents who put them in harm's way for no good reason at all.

Looking at the numbers, what we find is that this isn't at all surprising. Obama leads among veteran women (47 to 42), just as he leads among women generally (49-42), while Romney has a huge lead among veteran men (60 to 32), just as he leads among men generally (50-42). In other words, women prefer the Democrat and men prefer the Republican. What's interesting, though, is that the two are tied among non-veteran men (46 to 45 for Romney, well within the margin of error), meaning that Romney's lead among men has entirely to do with his support advantage among veterans.

And of course, while I exaggerate the point above, the fact is that those who are or were in the military, mostly men, tend to be Republican. (Robert Kaplan explores this in his book Imperial Grunts.) This has to do, no doubt, more with the distant past than with the recent past or present, to party stereotypes that developed during the Cold War and intensified during the Vietnam period, to a time when it appeared that Democrats were anti-military when what they really were was anti-militarism. There's a huge difference, one that those who serve/served ought to appreciate. What made it all the worse for Democrats was that Republicans used the flag and the military and "patriotism" as partisan political weapons, vilifying anyone who didn't embrace jingoism as un-American.

But, really, if you're a military man or woman, would you rather have in power the party that launched the bloody misadventure in Iraq, the party of reckless saber-rattling and fearmongering, or the party that secured peace in the Balkans through cautious military action and put the military back on a path of purpose and responsibility by putting an end to the Iraq War and insisting that the military only be sent into battle when there is a clear mission with clearly articulated outcomes?

The fact that so many in military, men who served or are serving still, prefer the former suggests that there is a disturbingly thoughtless bias at work here, knee-jerk partisanism that has nothing to do with reality.

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  • I am a Vietnam era vet and I was against that war.

    I was and am against the neocon wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Ron Paul's foreign policy sounds very sensible, to me.

    Frankly, I don't recall any disrespect toward Vietnam vets and I think it's just mostly conservative, War Party, Republican bullshit.

    Though, of course, jerks like McCain never liked to hear that Americans were killing and being killed in Vietnam on a hopeless fool's errand of no serious importance to US nationl interests.

    I have no doubt he and his kind took that as "disrespect."

    In grad school, I knew a guy whose jeep blew up in Vietnam, killing a friend.

    One day he asked if I thought the fellow had died in vain and I told him the truth.

    He wasn't happy about that.

    He might have felt that was disrespect.

    When the neocon wars are over at last and a larger part of the country adopts the opinion they, too, were a futile fool's errand our new veterans, all of them volunteers and none draftees, will have to get used to the same disrespect.

    I voted for Obama in 08 and will again.

    And if frank rejection of war and the stupid reasons given for it is disrespect for the fools who fight it then I do not regret this disrespect for our troops and sincerely hope, for the good of the country and its future, there is a whole lot more of it.

    The only thing effete about Chris Hayes was the shaky and shamefaced way he made his point.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:22 AM  

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