Military and voting?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 63dot, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. 63dot, Mar 2, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013

    63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #1
    It is my understanding that all Americans have the right to vote, so why have some of my military friends over the years found it wrong to vote for the POTUS?

    I know the president is commander in chief, and though soldiers don't vote for who becomes their generals, isn't the POTUS fundamentally a different concept here? I know chain of command is key but how does that disrupt things if soldiers vote for a presidential candidate? There are clear instructions on how to vote and ways for overseas soldiers to cast their vote.

    I re-read Colin Powell's autobiography and in there he talks about how some fellow service members didn't find it right to vote for president. Colin himself found it just fine to vote but his silence over his political leanings while in uniform was legendary, especially when many considered him a viable POTUS r VP candidate, but the speculation couldn't go further if nobody knew his political affiliation and he kept it quite. It was as if their (soldiers) job was to serve the chain of command, with president at the top, but voting disrupted the chain. In that belief, it was not right to choose the ultimate commander while in uniform (though Powell disagreed with those soldiers). I could see how some may think that the whole command is tossed on its head if lower ranks (that's anybody not the POTUS) ultimately contribute to who ends up being the top general, or in our case a civilian president leading the military.

    Many years ago I had a staunch democrat friend who was a Marine and while he voted, he was in conflict with that and would not say anything bad about George HW Bush even though the man stood against every fiber of his body, politically. He told me that while he didn't agree with Bush, he couldn't say anything bad about who was technically his ultimate commander. After becoming a close friend, I learned of his views but he would change the subject.

    Recently, my former law school partner with undergrad in history/poly sci. joined the military and suddenly, he won't vote or comment on POTUS. He comes from a small farm/business family that was very republican and he sincerely believed Obama and the democrats made it hard for his family to thrive. However, now that he's in uniform, voting for that office is just wrong even though of all people he knows it is legal, and he will die for whoever is president. He won't allow himself to have an "opinion" on the POTUS. Before his entry into the military he was outspoken in his criticism of Obama, but now political talk is off limits. He's laying down his life for democracy he says, but then why won't he (and many other people in uniform) vote?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. eric/ Guest

    eric/

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    #2
    It is what it is. I voted while I was in. Nobody really cares either way.
     
  3. 63dot, Mar 2, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013

    63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    I commend you for your service and that you voted!

    But my close friend who joined the navy really does care, and both of them (the Marine also) just seem to keep politics off limits. Did their commanding officer tell them to be so quiet or is it in their manual? I understand how it's wrong for a person in uniform to say anything to the media against POTUS, but why so quiet in private?

    MacArthur made a big stink against Truman to the media while wearing his custom made uniform that the media adored, but then after that he was fired.

    I know things may be strict in every area of life:

    http://www.veteransunited.com/spouse/11-in-uniform-rules-every-military-spouse-should-know/
     
  4. eric/ Guest

    eric/

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    #4
    Politics and religion divide people, so while in uniform it's not allowed. But really most people just don't care, even in the military, in my experience of course.
     
  5. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    Thanks for the answer. That's what I would have thought.

    I guess the strict adherence to stuff, like that link I posted which I find as interesting as I do puzzling (but often shot down by comments, later in that same thread) is something more akin to the newest members. My friend joined Navy very recently and my Marine friend was in first year. Also he told me that as a Marine, he had to be held to a higher standard than other service members, and if he wore Levi's out in public, even to nightclub, he had to have a belt at all times. It's one thing that helped separate a Marine wearing jeans over the other service members wearing jeans. :)

    I don't know if those are actual "rules" or Marine culture, or as on commenter in link, just the specific "command". I guess there are many shades of gray.
     
  6. eric/ Guest

    eric/

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    It's just silly Marine Corps delusions of grandeur. I highly doubt that is a rule, and other military members wear belts too. They may be held to higher standards in regard to dress (make sure you keep a buzzcut! and apparently wear a belt in public) but that's all just fluff. When it comes down to doing your job, everybody everywhere is held to a very high standard that varies a bit by the job. As an air traffic controller, or aviation crew member you're held to a higher standard than probably just about any marine, it's just nobody really cares how high and tight your haircut is.
     
  7. 63dot, Mar 2, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013

    63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    I totally agree. One thing I have believed in, and many on both sides of the aisle can agree, is that military personnel are not paid enough. Why, for instance, is a military doctor or lawyer paid only by their rank, which can be many times less than similar civilian doctor or lawyer? Shouldn't there be some equivalency pay (adjustment) to keep certain military jobs on par with civilian?

    I don't know what air traffic controllers are paid, but I guess quite a bit. Wouldn't it make sense to pay similar military air traffic controller near the same as civilian? I know it may be too much to ask for full equivalency, but what many special jobs are being paid to members in uniform is just not enough.

    This may be different, but local military schools pay their instructors a huge equivalency bonus (sometimes way, way more than base pay). They simply don't want those teachers to seek big pay at civilian universities and leave military school. One prof friend of mine makes 120K and that's not on any federal GS scale, and most of that is not federal pay that can be gauged by simple GS scale, but a giant equivalency bonus. The military school's president did try a bonus that was a little too high and Obama canned him. The GS job paid 120K but civilian job two or three times that, so he offered 250K for senior college administrator and that got out and led to claims of "mishandling" funds and eventual firing. Many who worked under this school president thought him to be fair and he sought the best candidates, even if that meant approaching civilian school pay. I guess there are limits to that. But anyway, it shows military (and GS civil servants) are often paid too low for highly skilled work.

    That being said, if military is like college or internship, in that it's part of the job to get paid lower, then I understand. Medical interns and newly minted attorneys with law clerk jobs can get paid very low. If all that is doing "service" to country, and that means taking lower pay in many cases, then I guess it's OK. I can see the young MD just out of med school being happy with being a Captain and doing his job, but what after twenty+ years and the doctor is a colonel and finds himself paid a fraction of what similar civilian MD is paid??

    I don't believe in greed, but on some level everybody should get paid a fair wage/salary.
     
  8. eric/ Guest

    eric/

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    Maybe for doctors or lawyers or something, but actually I say in general military personel are paid enough. When I was an E-4 I was cruising around in a $30,000 car, was maxing out my IRA, and had enough money left over to do whatever I wanted.

    But I also didn't go out and buy 75 Xbox games either.

    So, it's all about how you manage your money.
     
  9. 63dot, Mar 2, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013

    63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    LOL!! You have gotta see who visits the computer gaming store at the mall! Those young service members spend a ton on games, like, well, everything. ;)

    You did well. My experience is that the 18-21 year olds, largely single, who were the vast majority of kids on the two bases blew it all, but they did keep the Monterey Peninsula region aloft. When we lost Fort Ord, we lost our economy and have not recovered since then. Main street, here known as Alvarado Street, has been a ghost town.

    Though this is way off topic, Fort Ord had specialists found only there that had their main primary focus on Asian wars and mountain fighting, ie Afghanistan. We took over from a certain branch of mountain division in NY and the very specific mountain fighting in Afghanistan, different from fighting in alps via WWII, was one of the Fort's specialties that was unique in US army.

    However, in 1994 when it closed, the thought of Afghanistan was completely off anybody's mind. Just like we don't see a need for a large training facility teaching soldiers how to fight specifically in the Arctic, we would be amiss if we got into an unforeseen problem in that region. I know there was a big command in WWII in Alaska when we thought of a Japanese invasion, but currently there isn't as big a command.

    With all crying put aside, we lost our main income for the region with Fort Ord soldiers and it will never come back.:mad:
     
  10. GermanyChris macrumors 601

    GermanyChris

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    Mountain warfare school is taught by Vermont National Guard. It's used to be pretty standard affair to send 10th Mountain Division Infantry privates there but after the was started not so much. I went in the spring of 2001 it's a great school but nothing like Afghanistan you are correct.

    Now that the wars are winding down I hope those schools start to be more prevalent. Mountain Warfare, Jungle Warfare, Arctic Survival, SERE etc. We've been to focused on CQB, Asymmetric, and anti insurgency training that we no longer have a rounded force.

    @ the original OP soldier complain about politicians really it doesn't matter you gotta listen to the person anyway. It's kind of like complaining about the weather you have to go out in it anyway so whats the point.
     
  11. Ledgem macrumors 65816

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    There are sure to be a plethora of different reasons, but here's one thought: with our two-party system, when you vote for someone you are also voting against someone. Politics is fairly toxic, and each side does a good job of cutting the other down. Some people who really get into politics - and who get really invested in their candidate of choice - can end up hating the other candidate. If the candidate you voted against wins and your highly disciplined jobs requires that you defend the institution that person represents, take orders from them, and be willing to give your life from them, how content are you going to be? How much harder would it be for you to perform your job?

    I am non-military, but I'd probably keep away from politics if I were. It would be a self-protective thing, given how polarizing and disrespectful politics has become.
     
  12. zioxide macrumors 603

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    I don't see a problem. Like you said, they aren't voting for generals or anything. The POTUS isn't part of the military at all, he's the civilian commander-in-chief.

    Every US citizen is able to vote for President. I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to just because you're in the military. If a specific person feels like they don't want to vote, they have that right to, but I wouldn't change anything.
     
  13. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    I didn't even know my base, the one I lived next to for 30 years, had anything to do with Afghanistan training. I knew it was a large army base and there were Hummers and helicopters and at times landing craft on the Pacific Ocean side near Marina, CA.

    Anyway, my friend from high school told me he was going to write a book and e-mail all the generals who had some say. We all thought he was high being that he was a hotel clerk and 30 something military enthusiast with no training as a writer or historian. Basically, all the generals contacted him and talked to him but at that time he still didn't get the Chairman JCS then, Colin Powell, on the phone or e-mail. Fort Ord has some interesting history and has had some famous celebrities serve there including Clint Eastwood, who some claim was his discovery of the region later leading to him being mayor of Carmel, CA a few miles to the south.

    Anyway, they had some pretty scary helicopter pilots who could weave in and out of mountain ranges and troops who were supposedly ready to engage the then Soviet troops there if they were called in every mountain crevice. There was also a special team, all Spanish speaking, sent to Panama during that conflict who could secure criminals and return them to the states, like my friend said, some "super MPs". We always grew up thinking that the Fort was home to young infantrymen with no special skills per se. I guess if your fort is going to have some specialists with very sensitive skills it doesn't make sense to advertise it.

    ----------

    I can see your point.

    I have worked DoD and with contractors and I guess it was different. Voting and politics was totally OK but the few uniformed people in office were mum on the topic at all times, probably for the reasons you state.

    One guy, an outgoing Navy Chief, was totally outspoken about his libertarianism and legalizing pot and he knew he wasn't going to get canned and that his retirement was safe. He would hand out pamphlets and we thought he was smoking something on the job, which wasn't too far out of his belief system. There's one thing about legalizing pot, which I am OK with, but this guy was a ganja ambassador, Libertarian style. ;) He told us that if he did his job well enough that eventually one day we could live the constitution and abolish all offensive military units and offshore bases and be only stateside reserves like most modern countries.
     

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