Saturday, December 8, 2007

Military Families Turn On Bush Republicans

Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

"The man went into Iraq without justification, without a plan; he just decided to go in there and win, and he had no idea what was going to happen. There have been terrible deaths on our side, and it's even worse for the Iraqi population. It's another Vietnam."

-- Mary MacNeely, Mother of Air Force Reservist

Vietnam, which ruptured this country in incalculable ways. Among them, a right/left split that moved most military and military families to kneejerk Republican allegiance. Speaking as a member of one of those few left-leaning military families, let me say that I have seen this this coming; this Republican loss of its reliable military voter base.

Families with ties to the military, long a reliable source of support for wartime presidents, disapprove of President Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq, with a majority concluding the invasion was not worth it, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found.
Candle with USA Flag Behind
The views of the military community, which includes active-duty service members, veterans and their family members, mirror those of the overall adult population, a sign that the strong military endorsement that the administration often pointed to has dwindled in the war's fifth year.

The Bush Administration's obsessive pursuit of "victory" in Iraq has not only managed to destroy its own support from military culture, but that of its party.

When military families were asked which party could be trusted to do a better job of handling issues related to them, respondents divided almost evenly: 39% said Democrats and 35% chose Republicans. The general population feels similarly: 39% for Democrats and 31% for Republicans.

And, I'm sure it doesn't help when chicken-hawks like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell belittle the sacrifice of our all-volunteer military.

Unfortunately, most of our friends on the other isle are having a hard time admitting things are getting better; some days I almost think the critics of this war don't want us to win. Nobody is happy about losing lives but remember these are not draftees, these are full-time professional soldiers.

How much is wrong with that statement? For one thing... Democrats live on a island? Shouldn't that be "other side of the aisle?" Perhaps it was a transcription error and I should point the finger at the Grayson County News-Gazette. Or perhaps McConnell really does strand the Democrats of his imagination at sea, with Gilligan and the Skipper, too. It would not surprise me. The man is apparently so out of touch with reality that he has no awareness that we are losing members from every branch of the military, not just the army (soldiers), and that many of those currently risking life and limb are not full-time military professionals, but reservists who are, on top of other indignities, losing the income of their regular salaries to collect, in many cases, significantly lower military wages.

Mitch McConnell, a shining example of Republican military advocacy; lionizing our "brave troops" one minute, and displaying his near total ignorance of the realities of military life the next.

"I don't see gains for the people of Iraq . . . and, oh, my God, so many wonderful young people, and these are the ones who felt they were really doing something, that's why they signed up. I pray to God that they did not die in vain, but I don't think our president is even sensitive at all to what it's like to have a child serving over there."

-- Sue Datta, Mother of Army Staff Sergeant

Being in an active duty military family creates a certain isolation and a sense of internal community. We are, in many ways, cut off from the sense of geographical community that many Americans define by. We move a lot, so it is the military bases, commissaries, and the surround of other military families that is the most reliable constant. The result is, among, other things a conformity of viewpoint within that community. Particularly because he is an officer, my husband has long dealt with the "presumption of Republicanism." You are assumed to be Republican and conservative unless you openly state otherwise. That's been the case throughout my husband's military career, but it may not be so for much longer.

From the beginning of this push to go into Iraq, there were rumblings. I was somewhat surprised to learn that I was not the only military spouse who was pissed as hell at the idea of my husband deploying for a war that made no fucking sense. One of my husband's Marines officially changed his party affiliation from Republican to Independent the day he got his orders. And, when I went to protests in my largely military town, Marines were seen walking by giving the thumbs up to the protesters. This war has never been as popular with military culture as Bush's staged photo-ops, with their props in uniform, would have you think.

Five years later, what we are seeing is a sea change. Military families are becoming fed up with a President and a political party that does not serve their interests.

Asked about the Bush administration's handling of the needs of active-duty troops, military families and veterans, 57% of the general public disapprove. That number falls only slightly among military families -- 53% give a thumbs-down.

And most military families and others surveyed took no exception to retired officers publicly criticizing the Bush administration's execution of the war. More than half of the respondents in both groups -- 58% -- say such candor is appropriate. Families with someone who had served in the war are about equally supportive at 55%.

The Bush Administration will not be able to hide behind the military for much longer, and defend his misguided policies as supporting troops who want "to get the job done." Not when 60% of military families say "the Iraq war is not worth the cost," and 58% want the within a year.

"We support the troops; we don't support Bush. These boys have paid a terrible, terrible price."

-- Linda Ramirez, Mother of US Marine