Yesterday I wrote a piece on Ron Paul’s candidacy. I didn’t mention the item that led me to write the piece in the first place. An article noted that much of Paul’s support comes from military families. A related finding, harder to measure, is that a large proportion of military families support Paul.
In any other election year, this affinity would be counter-intuitive. Military families generally stick with establishment candidates – that’s the perception at least. This election year is unusual, though, not least because the incumbent appears vulnerable. We should not be surprised to see an alignment between Paul’s candidacy and military families.
Paul has been called an isolationist. He’s not. He has no quarrel with keeping the United States engaged with the rest of the world. Paul opposes American aggression and military intervention overseas. One can say without irony that our aggressive military policy for ten years has served to isolate us more effectively than any overt withdrawal from international politics would have done. We have lost a lot of friends, and the ones we still have don’t trust us. No one wants to come and play in our backyard, and that suits our current leaders just fine.
Let’s consider some domestic political currents that lead to Paul’s popularity with military families. When was the last time you saw an article that drew a detailed, compelling picture of life in a modern military family? The press loves statistics. What is the suicide rate among veterans? What is the divorce rate in military families? How many injured and ill veterans receive too many prescription drugs? How many receive too few? How many stories tell about the destructive effect our wars have on family life? We all know the effects haven’t been good, but what can you do?
Well, you can do a lot if you care to take stands that result in ridicule and dismissal. Military families don’t ridicule Ron Paul. Military families know why they have so little hope. They know that except for the occasional feature story, obituary, or homecoming, the rest of America doesn’t think about them that much. Only a few people care to take a stand that draws a tight connection between military misadventures and fiascoes overseas, and huge strains on military families here at home. We all acknowledge that the connection exists, but we don’t care to say, “enough is enough.” Ron Paul does say, “enough is enough.”
As a culture, we change the subject when military men and women oppose the wars they fight. Their opposition makes us uncomfortable. Look what happened to John Kerry. He served with distinction and honor in Vietnam. His decorations recognized genuine physical and moral courage. What happened? His opponents lied about his service because they hated his opposition to the war when he returned home. They couldn’t even bring out their real motivation, so they corrupted themselves with false attacks.
Ron Paul served in the Air Force. He knows military service first hand. Military families know they can trust his stand against our military involvement in other countries. They know his opposition is principled, that it’s consistent with his other beliefs. His integrity makes it safer for military families to oppose the wars we’re in. The ridicule and dismissal they might suffer is transferred to their candidate.
To some of us, Paul’s opposition to torture, to the assault on Wikileaks, to the assassination of Awlaki, is no more than common sense backed by moral courage. He’s simply correct in his interpretation of our Constitution. Perplexingly, many Democrats and Republicans don’t see things the same way. They say the government’s actions are necessary, and what is necessary is justifiable. Paul has been a single voice that says, “You have it backwards. Necessity does not fashion our laws. Our laws tell us what is necessary.”
The suffering of American military families makes them understand the one candidate who grasps the truth, and who points it out to the rest of us. They know we need a leader with Paul’s character to put our country’s military and foreign policy on a new course. Of all the groups in our citizenry, American military families have born the most; they continue to give us everything they have. They serve with our gratitude, but not with a true understanding on our part of what they have undergone.
Support Ron Paul. He is the only candidate to recognize how we must act to save our military, and our country.