Here’s the truth people. I am a part of the oft talked about Veteran vote and have absolutely no idea what that means. Granted, there are about 22 million of us across all generations and that sounds like it could certainly shift an election. The only problem is that Veterans are not the T-Birds, we don’t all wear black leather jackets, and we don’t follow the leader. But more than that, Veteran don’t sit around all day only thinking about Veteran stuff. Mmmm… Jalapeno Cheese. So how exactly is a Veteran supposed to vote in this election? Ought we listen to the largest Veteran brands on social media? Medal of Honor recipients are awesome, perhaps we should just listen to them. Should we just do what General Mattis says? Yes actually, the answer to that last question is always yes. Or maybe, just maybe, you view your Veteran status as part of you and not the sum. Perhaps you embrace your inner Renaissance Man and take in the entire breadth of humanity that has been informed by combat rather than enslaved to it. Do you want to know how Veterans should vote in this election? Like Men, and nothing else. Unless you are a woman, then you know, vote like a woman.
The IAVA Forum
This week, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America will be hosting the Commander in Chief forum featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Now, if you read my last article on this matter you know that I am not that big a fan of the IAVA and I gave them a stern talking to, along with a wag of the finger, for keeping out Gary Johnson. Encouraging you to let your voice be heard, but don’t be a troll, they received thousands of messages. Hopefully you good people were the respectful ones.
Their response was poor from a PR standpoint in my opinion and actually made it worse but, in the end, they did not Feel the Johnson. Despite that, and the fact, I was not a fan of IAVA before, I will say it’s time for people to quit destroying everything they post on social media with comments about Gary Johnson. We let our voices be heard and I think they lost a good bit of credibility with Veterans. However, the point was to let our voices be heard and not troll a site. As the owner of a social media site myself, it’s just the worst and I think at this point a week later harmful to the original point. I’m not sticking up for the IAVA now “because I still don’t like them”, but rather, just for good social media etiquette if there is such a thing. I’m not your leader, but if I could humbly offer the following suggestion on whether or not you continue to do so to their site:
But here is the thing about the forum in of itself: it almost inadvertently perpetuates the theme that Veterans are roaming packs of single issue voters waiting to herd in one direction. I think Veterans should watch the forum if they want to, but I don’t think any Veteran should let his choice be entirely dictated by Veteran’s issues. I care greatly about Veterans issues, but if the candidate with the best plan to reform the VA also tells me that he/she plans to stimulate the economy by raising taxes 10% then what am I? Am I a Veteran or an economist? And it could even baser elements of life to consider. If a candidate promised all Veterans free hot wings and bourbon for life but to pay for it active duty military pay was to be cut, I’m sorry active duty brothers but it’s going to be some hard times on base in your future. What exactly is it that Veterans want, aside from hot wings and bourbon, but more importantly how much do you let the Veteran in you dictate your vote as opposed to just inform it.
Combat Should Unleash the Renaissance in Us All
Am I the only one who patrolled a street in Iraq and was absolutely fascinated by the local economy? It’s common in many third world countries that I have subsequently been to, but the street vendor marketplaces were crazy. It’s not that I was expecting to see a Wal-Mart or anything, but I don’t think I ever realized just how basic economic theory actually is. It was supply and demand at its most basic level there. Even taking it further, you can just look at the Marines presence wherever we went. Back in 2003, there really were not any built up bases and often, there was nothing more than a little razor wire separating you from the hadjis. And literally, wherever the Marines made camp the demand for those tasty little roasted chickens, beverages of all sorts and weird Arabic Porn would skyrocket. Within an hour, there were hadji kids standing outside the wire with supply to meet the demand. How did they know Marines would snatch up all the local porn? I don’t know, they just got lucky I guess. But war taught me something about economics.
So what do Veterans think about the economy? Hell, I don’t know. Same stuff normal people do I guess. We didn’t all land last week on a mothership. But if you are Veteran who became an economist, I’m not going to ask you that question. Rather, I’m going to say, “Oh hey man, you were in combat? Cool Story Bro. What do economist think about the economy?” If Veterans truly want their voices heard in this election, they can’t limit it by being a one-trick pony. The truth is that Veterans cover a wide range of the political spectrum and there is no such thing as the Veteran vote. That’s why at every single political rally you see someone holding a sign that says Veterans for “Insert Candidate Name Here.” Veterans are all over the place because subsequent life experiences are informing us about the world and it should be that way.
The Veteran Vote is a Myth
We all care about Veteran issues and they ought to be addressed by the candidates. However, I kind of want to hear what they have to say about the rest of the world as well. The role of government, the free economy, immigration, border security, healthcare, war on drugs, justice reform, the 2nd amendment, NSA spying, and more. To my brothers and sisters who ever put on the uniform, if we are going to shape the politics of this country we must be more than Veterans. We weigh and calculate the sum of it and choose whoever the hell we want. We must be Renaissance Men. Except ladies, no need to transition, you are fine being Renaissance Women. Veterans think about stuff too people and in the span of this one article thread you will find Veterans for every candidate on the ticket and at least a dozen for candidate, “deez nuts.” Because if one candidate does have a solid handful of the Veteran vote, it’s deez nuts.
Look, I know there is a heavy conservative leaning in the military community but maybe that has nothing to do with the fact we are Veterans because we have liberal Veterans too. One of my war buddies who reads this blog is a raging socialist. They too get a say in this mythical Veteran vote. Except my raging socialist war buddy, you just stay home. Some Veterans went to war and fell in love with combat and yet others went to the same war and are decidedly against it. Who gets to define the Veteran’s vote? I don’t know, maybe it’s just part of me that is forever proud to be a Veteran but not looking to be forever defined by it and this election season is just the latest manifestation of it. I plan to vote this November like a grown man with a wide array of life experiences, one of which was combat. I hope all you Veterans do the same. It’s a part us my friends, not the sum.
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