07. March 2013 · Comments Off on The Military and Politics – What Incoming Enlistees Should Consider · Categories: Politics · Tags:

Disclosure: This post is more than borderline opinionated.

Before Joining the Military is not by any means a political sounding board for my own political affiliation, so don’t get the wrong idea. But by its very nature, people who join the military are directly affected by politics, in 100% of cases. Regardless of your personal feelings about the political climate of the country, if you’re considering enlistment as a viable career option, then your life is more subject to the leanings of these creatures we call ‘representatives’.

Like I said, though, this is not a political sounding board.

During the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, it was considered civic duty to get educated, stay educated, and participate in politics – it was widely regarded as something citizens just did. Today, so many of us have been lulled into complacency because we’re so incredibly comfortable. And as civilians, we can sort of afford to be complacent. At least, the ones who are okay with keeping their mouths shut can.

When you join the military, while you’re in it and once you’re out, that whole “whatever, politics is boring” goes out the window for a lot of veterans. In fact, for a lot of us, being in the military changes how you see politics completely. Democrats turn into Republicans, Republicans into Democrats, and both may turn into Libertarians. The point is that once you sweat, bleed, and bathe four (or two, or twenty) years of military service, you may begin to relate to the Renaissance mentality of regarding it as civic duty. What was once incredibly boring horseshit your high school teachers tried desperately to get you to relate to is now somehow relatable.

To put it briefly, the Commander in Chief is who he is for four to eight years. It’s widely debated how valuable your vote is or isn’t, but none of that is really the point. The point is that while you’re considering enlistment, you’re in the process of considering a move that will likely shape and reshape the outlook of how you regard politics. As a matter of advice, there’s not a whole lot a veteran can give to someone pre-enlistment when it comes to big politics on the grand scale, other than this:

Start paying attention.

Like I said, politics isn’t the most interesting thing in the world, all the time. It becomes more interesting the more you consider how you’re liable to be affected by it, though. Most of us in the civilian sector care very little because there’s a prevailing mentality that “oh this election won’t affect my life much” – and we choose instead to waste the next three hours watching the likes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo instead of watching a presidential debate or having a consequential discussion with your dad about what’s changed in his political party in the last 10 years or so… One way is squandering the hours of your life, and the other is not. The point is that if you’re thinking about joining, your life will be 10 times more affected than your college-bound, future frat housed buddies. As such, it makes a great deal of sense to plan accordingly.

I say all this, but have yet to give any real starting point for someone who may agree. It’s like this, first and foremost:

Read the Constitution.

Regardless of what political party you choose to agree with, if you’re joining the Armed Forces, you’re going to be swearing to defend this document. Read it, learn it, study it, and the rest is bound to follow. You may even notice that quite a bit of it really needs defending.

Then:

Decide where you stand on major issues like foreign policy, overseas occupation, and the not so recent abuse of military prisoners.  

Ask yourself primitive, basic questions like ‘why do I agree/disagree with our current foreign policy’. And write down why. Tweet it. Post it on Facebook.

Consider why it may have been such an ugly, illegal, terrible thing for U.S. troops to beat and piss on POWs. Then try the hat on reverse. What would you do if the guy you’re babysitting detonated an IED that blew off your best friends legs, you haven’t seen home for 9 months, and haven’t slept in 18 hours?

 

Again, BJtM is not a political sounding board. But it’s vitally important for any citizen – civilian or military – to be asking such questions.