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Mission Before Me: When The Warrior Class Runs For Office

At The Tank on National Review Online, I have written an article perhaps of interest to Wizbang readers: Mission Before Me: On Supporting Vets Running for Public Office. It is a continuation of a conversation with a friend on Twitter.

I'll cut to the chase and give you the conclusion, but hope that some will read the whole thing and see - and perhaps weigh in on - just how I got there.

With the challenges facing us, from those already in existence to those being recklessly placed before and upon us and our children yet unborn, that sense of "Mission Before Me" will be the ingredient that pushes back the tide of encroaching socialism and the economic erosion that has followed every embrace of socialism in history. And with economic failure goes security and civil society as we have known it. Take a look around the world, or perhaps barely as far as Mexico, and have a look at the effect economic collapse has on both security and civil society.

Do not look for specific expertise or experience in those you elect to govern on the vast array of critical issues before us. See Mr. Geithner (appointed by those elected) and Vice President Biden, if you like. No, look for character and core conservative principles. Because if you possess both, you can err from time to time as being human requires of us, but you will always be guided in the right direction no matter the specific topic among the vast. And when it comes to elected officials, their direction dictates the direction of us all.

"Replacing politicians w no knowledge of global financial & security flows w vets with only security experience" = huge change. Because it's about the character and principles that lead to good decision-making, not single-issue expertise in any area, security or otherwise.

In hindsight, I wish I had revisited the piece before pubbing long enough to draw proper examples of how veteran status is not an infallible indicator of character, conduct and principle. Congressman Jack Murtha (D-PA) comes immediately to mind, as does former Congressman Duke Cunningham (R-CA).

But the common quality of "Mission Before Me" among military veterans, particularly today's generation of tested warriors, is an attribute too rare by comparison among America's general civilian population, and enough to give an initial benefit of the doubt to a veteran candidate for office.


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Comments (19)

Read Starship Troopers by R... (Below threshold)

Read Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein for a lot of common sense that goes along with that.

"It is a continuation of a ... (Below threshold)

"It is a continuation of a conversation with a friend on Twitter."-ss

Disqualification due to excessive gayness while citing "military veterans"(sic).

STFU.... (Below threshold)


First, that was brilliant, ... (Below threshold)

First, that was brilliant, Bryan.

Second, just what veterens do you want to see run for office, Schippert?

WW2 vets like John McCain are mostly deceased or pushing 90.

Almost every Vietnam vet I've ever known credits the liberal movement of the sixties as the reason they are still alive today.

Operation "I'm better than my Dad?"?

That remains to be seen, but it seems like so far they've been coming back and running as Democrats.

Sheesh, Ryan, can you BE an... (Below threshold)

Sheesh, Ryan, can you BE any dumber?

WW2 vets like John McCain are mostly deceased or pushing 90.

Almost every Vietnam vet I've ever known credits the liberal movement of the sixties as the reason they are still alive today.

John McCain is a Vietnam vet, and does NOT credit "the liberal movement of the sixties" for his survival. On the contrary -- he's on record saying that that movement prolonged his ordeal.


Thank you, Jay. It's alrea... (Below threshold)

Thank you, Jay. It's already obvious what circles Ryan runs in, so it's no surprise what his friends say. I happen to know many Vietnam vets myself and they all carry the same sentiment you describe. The "liberal movement of the sixties" was comprised of a vast array of anti-war chanters from celebrity figures lending vocal support to the enemy to sixties bands cooing anti-war/anti-military lullabies. All of it played a role in weakening American resolve, demoralizing our troops and emboldening the enemy. Why, it almost sounds as if I'm talking about the last six or eight years and not 30 years ago, doesn't it?

Excellent piece Steve.... (Below threshold)

Excellent piece Steve.

You are right that the core issue of character and integrity should be the foundation for making decisions on policy. Your comment in the NRO article on the formative attributes of the "Mission before me" principle is spot on:

And this is why they are confident in their views rather than responsive to rhetoric.

One of our most serious problems as a nation is the fundamental inability (or unwillingness) of political leaders to be informed by principle instead of rhetoric.

Don't ask, Don't tell, brya... (Below threshold)
Steve Schippert:

Don't ask, Don't tell, bryanD.

Get over yourself.

Being a Vet myself, I would... (Below threshold)

Being a Vet myself, I would say you still need to judge people by their character.
We have seen Vets like Kerry who only went into the military as part of furthering his political career.

John Murtha has not been always faithful to the Corp.

Colin Powell has more than once shown that he is no better than any politician switching side and loyalties
How about the crop of Officers who left the Bush administration and pop up on TV shows saying how they did not like this or that. I want an Officer who is willing to put his neck on the line for his Airmen, Sailors and Marines.

I loved Starship Troopers by the way. It was one of the reasons I joined the Military. The other was visiting the country of my birth when I was 13 and seeing how people lived. I knew how hard my parents worked and saw the fruits of their labor. I also saw how hard my relatives worked and saw how little they had because their government took all their money. . When I came back to the USA I started work on becoming Naturalized Citizen and promised I would serve this country when I was 18.

There are many who serve for the best interest of the country, but we have small few who server for themselves and will never understand in the core of their soils Duty, Honor Country. So lets vet the veterans and ensure we get more men like Bush 41 and no Kerry's . Also remember Regan was not a Vet but he sure as hell understood what the Oath of Office was. He showed us the true Character of a leader., that is what we must look for men and women of character that understand that they are in office to serve the people and not themselves.

Aside from character issues... (Below threshold)
James H:

Aside from character issues, I also note that being a veteran does not automatically mean one will execute high office well.

Just to stay close to home.... (Below threshold)

Just to stay close to home....how about those Kerry/Kennedy vets? Or Reed of RI? Perhaps we should be suspicious of the vets from the vietnam era because they were made out to be villians when they returned to this country and, thus, were unable to be judged appropriately. I hope our guys and gals returning from this war (GWOT)will be allowed the esteem they deserve and then we can judge them on the results they deliver, politically, because I admire them for what they have delivered in the field.

hcddbz -"Starship ... (Below threshold)

hcddbz -

"Starship Troopers" is an incredible book - if you can understand that an adherence to a "Violence Never Solves Anything" mindset means you'll be dead when someone comes along who has no hesitation when it comes to using violence, and that maintaining civilization itself requires self-discipline and self-sacrifice. Violence is something to avoid - but when it's unavoidable, you haul out the can of whoop-ass, order an extra case of it for immediate delivery, and then use as much as needed to the best of your ability to destroy the threat.

(It does help to have a clear and unambiguious enemy, by the way. Critters that want to eat humanity then use rib bones for toothpicks work nicely for that.)

The MOVIES of the same title just plain stink on ice... which isn't suprising, since it would have been very hard to translate the philosophical underpinnings in the book to the screen. There's a lot of 'classroom' time in the books explaining the belief. The action-adventure parts are almost filler... except they're needed to explain WHY the government works as it does.

Overall - would a government as envisioned in Starship Troopers work? Heck if I know - but I'm not impressed with how things are going with OURS at this point...

James H -

I think it's also becoming clear that a good line and a smooth manner doesn't mean squat when it comes to high office.

Judith -

Suspicion of Viet Nam era vets should be on a case-by-case basis. If you used vet bodies as a stepping stone to prominence (as Kerry did) that's a sure sign that self is far more important than service.

Mycroft has a good point re... (Below threshold)

Mycroft has a good point re "Starship Troopers". The movie of the same name was fucked up and bore no relation to the major themes of the book. Liberal elite tend to tag those in the military as 'knuckle draggers'.

"Almost every Vietnam vet I've ever known credits the liberal movement of the sixties as the reason they are still alive today."

Must know different Vets from the one's I know. Most I know give them credit for getting more of us and Vietnamese civilians killed.

Also remember Regan was ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Also remember Regan was not a Vet but he sure as hell understood what the Oath of Office was.

He didn't serve in combat, but yes he was a Vet.

Starship Troopers, for thos... (Below threshold)

Starship Troopers, for those that don't know, was a novel written in the late 50's aimed at the burgeoning threat of global Communism and the Anti-American movement begining here in the U.S. Some of the key points of the book are that antlike, communal Communism was a bad thing, for a society to work, one had to be willing to put the needs of the society over the needs of the individual. The ability to vote or hold political office was only allowed by those that had done 2 years of hard, life threating, voluntary, public service.

There has been lot's of debate on this novel and it is required reading in many institutions of higher learning. Whether or not you agree or disagree with Heinlen's premise, the over riding question of whether the vote is cheapend by non stake holders determining the outcome I think is valid.

Our Founding Fathers understood that those with the most to gain or lose would pay the most attention to the functions of government and desire to see long term stability, thus they tried to limit the franchise only to land owners. This of course did not work in that business owners and skilled craftsman felt they also had a stake. Then the issues of Women and eventually Minorities came into play, all valid points for voting rights for all. But one has to question if we've gone to far, I mean paying a bum a pack of cigarettes to go vote? People who pay no taxes voting for people who allow them to continue to pay no taxes and reap more benifits? I don't know if only allowing those who volunteer for sometimes dangerous service should be the only ones to vote but I'm starting to get in favor of only allowing those who actually PAY taxes to vote. I don't know but our current system is going down hill and much like the Roman Republic I sometimes feel it's destined for failure.

i actually think voting bei... (Below threshold)

i actually think voting being limited to taxpayers is a very good idea.

specifically to income tax payers.

or at least by using the same formula unemployment benefits - you have to have X many quarters of tax payment immediately prior to an election.

I'm starting to get in f... (Below threshold)

I'm starting to get in favor of only allowing those who actually PAY taxes to vote

So assholes who hide all of their wealth in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland shouldn't get to vote? Or, presumably, contribute to political parties? Sounds good--draft the memo!

who hide... (Below threshold)

who hide all of their wealth in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland shouldn't get to vote?

Why do they hide THIER wealth?

Could it be because we have some many Politian who love to get votes by appealing to the Bread and Circus folks?
Thus the politician need rob from one group to give handouts to the other.

Which caused the group they are robbing from to find ways of protecting the fruits of their labor.

Oh and please no Robin Hood. The people in Robins day were be excessively taxed by the government. The fruit of their labor was confiscated and given to another group. So if it was right for Robin to return the wealth to the people. Then maybe it right for others to try and keep the fruits of their labor.

Um... what?... (Below threshold)

Um... what?






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