Dear Politicians, Stop Making the Military a Pawn in Your Public Chess Game
By Chuck Porter
I’m going to catch hell for this, but I need to say it.
I wish that politicians would stop using the military as political props.
Without a doubt that is NOT an unpopular opinion. I think it’s safe to say that we’re all a bit fed up with the dog and pony shows that come with any election cycle. Candidates bring out active duty folks, veterans, and spouses to reinforce to their constituency how much they LOVE us.
By this point I’m sure you’re thinking that I’m writing this as a result of President Trump’s “tribute” to Chief Ryan Owens and his wife at the address to the Joint Session of Congress Tuesday night. You’re right. It was without any doubt a touching, dare I say gut wrenching moment. Watching that widow look towards the heavens and talk to her husband in the midst of a never-ending applause was a soul stirring moment.
What followed was deplorable, but totally expected. Charges from the left ranged from “political theatre” to outright personal attacks on Mrs. Owens.
My question to you is this: Is it not political theatre? The same political theatre perpetrated by every presidential administration for decades. Is that an unreasonable charge to make?
Please understand that I am in no way excusing those that chose to not at least acknowledge the moment or worse yet take to social media and make flat out asinine statements about the widow. Those are shitty people and they deserve whatever bad karma comes their way.
That said, we need to be objective about this topic. Is it no less “political theatre” when a Republican does it versus when a Democrat does it? If we question the motives of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, or Barak Obama, is anyone out of line in suggesting that Donald Trump is beyond reproach in his motives?
Now I’ll concede that Democrats, generally speaking, have a long and well documented history (post Kennedy) of anti-military behavior and rhetoric so it’s easy to assume that any deference given is disingenuous on its face. That, however, does not negate the attempt to gain some political capital from the military community by those on the right when they take part in these same stunts.
The bottom line for me is this: We can avoid any sense of impropriety if politicians chose to honor the sacrifice of our military by doing so without making it a photo-op every time. Quit bringing them on stage at rallies (Ron Paul, you know better), quit tossing them up in the gallery at every State of the Union address (every President since 1981), and stop using us to elicit pseudo-patriotic emotions from your constituents to get your political agenda crammed through. “I have written this bill and this random veteran is loosely affected by it and he/she thinks it’s neat and if you don’t pass it you hate veterans and America!”
Look, I can’t say that every time a politician chooses to honor a member of our armed forces it’s a disingenuous act. I’m sure that more often than not there are good intentions, however they need to remember that perception is reality. If I perceive that what you’re doing is a publicity stunt, then it’s a publicity stunt.
To reiterate, stop using the military community as props. It’s douchey.