Military Makes Being Rightwing and Religious a Prerequisite to Advancement
Letter from Chris, Retired MSgt, USAF
NOTE: This letter was sent to Cheryl Seal in response to the recent commentary "Rich, White, and Republican: The American Dream, Paid for by the Rest of Us". The author signed his full name, address, and phone #. However, because of the hateful tactics of so many of the rightwingers these days, we made the decision not to include his full name and thereby bring down the "wrath of right." Wouldn't want to have Chris's pension tampered with by anybody in the Pentagon, now would we!?
There is also a group of folks who vote Republican and may play a very big role in W's re-election: The Military.
I was already in SEA by the time I was old enough to vote for or against Nixon in '72. By 1980 our leaders were heavily "implying" that we vote for Reagan. They kept it up, voting Conservative Republican, right along with pushing Religion on us. As a Senior NCO (just an E-7) I was expected to attend not only the Dining Ins and Outs (with Defense Contractors Reps often present and handing out Plaques etc), but Wing Prayer Breakfasts. In fact before I retired in 1989 in order to make E-8, and I didn't for a variety of reasons, it was almost mandatory to not just be a member of a church, on base or off; but to be a High Deacon or even a preacher/minister/youth leader
etc. Being a Scout Leader was also good. It had to be even harder on the Officers. Still that way even though the military is complaining about overworking the troops. Voting Republican and being Religious, seems to be a winner for them. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is a common adage in the military.
You are probably wondering why I changed. Actually I intended to be an Independent until I went to college, on the GI Bill. There were a couple of things I found out that pissed me off. One was that Nixon had sabotaged the '68 Peace talks to get elected, with the help of Kissinger. Next was that the USSR had essentially collapsed from within by 1981, but something like $1,000,000,000,000 plus was still spent building up the military on stupid hardware because the CIA had "missed" this little detail. Was more like they were flush with money, having a good time and didn't want it to stop. (This is another reason the War on Terror could go on and on).
Now I am for a strong military, but that money would have been better spent on pay raises, quarters, hospitals etc. than, say, the goal for a 600 ship Navy, some of which they still can't find. As for W's and Uncle Dick's promise to spend a Billion Dollars for a pay raise, they did. Just like Reagan's big, and only big one, in 1981. But what they didn't tell the troops was that Republican Pork, ie Lott's $880 Million for 2 Cruise Ships to be used for "Command & Control", would have funded pay raises going back to '93 and for each of the 8 years of Clinton's presidency.
We were hooked by Reagan in '80. Looks like W & Co. did it again in 2000, especially with the accusation that Gore and the Dems destroyed ALL the Absentee Military Votes. Having a group of MOH Recipients protest this in Florida, impromptu of course, Ha putting the icing on. And then the American Legion's full backing, with 41 & 43 (or 42 if you read BASSMASTERS) being Life Members along with other military greats such as the Right Rich Rev Robertson... I still belong to the VFW, but NOT the Legion!
And look what the last Bush War did for the Generals and Admirals. Before all they could hope for to supplement their 75% of Base Pay, many with 100% Disability, retiring in a state with no income tax; was to set on a Defense Co. board and maybe a Conservative think tank. Not bad, especially since many could not have made it so high outside the military. But since Reagan even a little LT. COL. who lied to congress is a Millionaire!
So, it ain't just Rich, White folks who vote Republican, nor just the now well paid Generals and Admirals. So do the Buck Privates and Mosquito Wings, in the thousands! And the Folks back home, spouses, offspring...
Retired MSgt, USAF