Friday, August 27, 2004

The Issues

August 27, 2004

Politics is dirty. It disgusts me. I am a soldier; therefore, I am not supposed to have an opinion. Oh, we can have them of course, but we are supposed to keep them to ourselves. I find that rule funny simply because we, as soldiers, fight for some of the very freedoms we don’t enjoy. Obviously, it’s not as severe as it sounds but the rule stands – DO NOT TALK POLITICS. I am going to break the rule though - just this once.

Vietnam. Swift Boat. Purple Hearts. Silver Star. Air National Guard.

There is a Presidential election fast approaching and we all have a decision to make. Many of the soldiers and marines serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have little precious time to sit and do the homework necessary to figure out the issues the candidates are discussing across America. George W. Bush is our boss. Senator John Kerry wants to be our boss. For those of us here now, and for those who will follow, there is no decision more important than this one. Yet, all we hear about is what did or didn’t happen 35 years ago aboard a Navy Swift Boat. The issues of the campaign are deeply tucked in to the fourth or fifth story of the news, if at all. We catch glimpses of the news. We read snippets of the newspaper. We get moments on the internet. We don’t have time to watch an entire newscast. We can’t read through to page ten of the newspaper. We go directly to e-mail when we get a moment to use the internet. When I do check my e-mail, I get forwards that say ’10 Reasons why Theresa Heinz Kerry is a horrible person.’ Why doesn’t someone send me an email that says ’10 Reasons why George Bush should remain in office?’ The latter would be much more effective.

What are the issues? It’s a little over two months before Election Day and I have no idea. Because it matters to me, however, I will find time to do my homework. Most will not. They don’t have time.

It’s not just the news organizations; it’s the politicians and their campaign teams as well, who spend millions of dollars to attack the other candidate. I cannot believe the amount of money raised for these campaigns. It is embarrassing. What’s more embarrassing is we are in Iraq trying to establish a Democratic system of government based on morals, values, and understanding between all political and religious parties. Yet, travel a few thousand miles to the west and our system is the epitome of dirty politics. Does anyone else find this ironic? How are we supposed to find out the issues if we can’t get past this Swift Boat controversy? How are we going to establish a credible, moral democracy over here if we are unable to do it at home? How are we supposed to elect our leader, a man who will command us in the War on Terror if we don’t know what issues are important to him?

I will never comment on Vietnam because I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about. It’s a disservice to those who served and to those who died. I can comment on service, however. Any service in the military, particularly in a war zone, is noble, scary, and honorable. What happens to each individual person is unique to the situation and the person or persons involved. It is not fair to continually cast stones upon those involved in helping to protect our country, and to lessen the importance of their sacrifice. Their sacrifice should never find its way in to negative attack ads and they should never be used to discredit someone’s honorable military service.

I’ve learned a lot over the last year – about service, honor, pride, fear, and nobility. I’m passionate about what we are doing and I want to continue to do great things that will improve the quality of life, not only for America and Iraq, but for the world. We can only do that effectively if we cut out the dirty politics and start focusing on the issues that will improve all our lives, bring the troops home, and restore hope in people throughout the world.

It’s no wonder good people with good ideas run like Marion Jones from politics. Politicians have the incredible honor (and task) of reaching people and affecting change. George W. Bush and John Kerry might have ideas to do just that, but they are ruining it by attacking each other instead of the issues. Dirty politics makes it harder for those of us in uniform to make one of the biggest decisions of our lives – and that is a disservice to us.

With Love,


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