Once upon a time, the United States was fighting a war half way around the world from home. Actually, despite the content of your nightly newscast, the United States is still fighting a war half way around the world from home – just ask any of the 68,000 troops still in Afghanistan. Military families know that there’s still a war going on, to say nothing of individual members of the armed forces. You may have a friend or friend-of-a-friend who has a family member either who is either fighting nor or was one of the many tours of duty in either Iraq or Afghanistan, now finally home. The evening news – well, most news in its entirety – has moved on from this reality onto much more pressing issues, like honeys that boo boo and new phone gadgetry.
After being a mainstay in political rallies and conventions – whether or not their ultimate value to the party platform was more negligible than a uniformed prop – the presidential election campaign this year has produced a rather remarkable occurrence: one of the top two contenders for the White House accepted his party’s nomination with a speech that went on to not mention our fighting men and women even once. What is even more remarkable is that the nominee to notch this dubious acheivement was from the Republican party. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the Republican party standard-bearer, did not give so much as a wink or nod to the military – even a fake one for optics.
Far from being a slip-up from the Romney campaign, the diminished care for the military carried straight over to the U.S. Senate, where in a remarkable vote on September 19, a bill to provide for a jobs program for returning troops was killed with a procedural vote after winning 58 – 40. In not-wonky-politic speak, that means that the bill was defeated, despite having more than enough votes to pass. All forty Senators voting against the bill were Republicans, including a handful of Republicans who had authored the language of the bill.