Friday, November 11, 2016

The Veterans' President

          This Veteran’s Day, America is a nation deeply divided. Thousands have taken to the streets to protest Donald Trump’s victory in the Presidential election. A petition on calling for the Electoral College to elect Hillary Clinton as President has earned nearly three million signatures. On social media, the hash tag #Calexit took off, echoing the British decision to leave the European Union.
          While this civil unrest appears troubling, America may have dodged a bullet. Donald Trump has repeatedly called this year's presidential election rigged and has wavered on whether he would accept a Hillary Clinton victory. Half of Republicans would not accept Clinton, as their president. And if she would have won, nearly 70 percent said it would be because of illegal voting or vote rigging. Conversely, seven out of 10 Democrats said they would accept a Trump victory and less than 50 percent would attribute it to illegal voting or vote rigging, the poll showed. If Trump had lost, maybe the out lash might have been worse. In any case, neither side trusts the other.
Image result for trump veterans day            Indeed, it appears trust in America is at an all time low. Americans' confidence in key U.S. institutions has remained very low since the financial crisis in 2007. Worryingly, the media and the judicial system continue to rank low, with Congress at rock bottom. The Military and the Police are the only institutions that still have high confidence by a majority of Americans. But this trust in the military leadership may not last.
            The election of Republican Donald Trump as president could mean a breakdown in the relationship between civilian and military leaders. In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” retired Marine Gen. John Allen criticized Trump for his rhetoric on the wider use of military force and torture. And if Trump followed through with those pledges, Allen said, it would create “a civil military crisis, the like of which we've not seen in this country before.” Gen. Allen warned that if Donald Trump were elected president, there would be mass unrest among the military rank and file over the policies that he would implement and pursue. The retired four-star general, who served as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention. Trump has derided the general as a failure.
            A coup d’état, however, remains unlikely because service members would not execute it. In a Military Times’ survey of American military personnel, Donald Trump emerged as active-duty service members’ preference to become the next U.S. president, topping Hillary Clinton by more than a 2-to-1 margin, while more than one in five troops said they’d rather not vote if they have to choose between just those two candidates. Another poll gave Mr. Trump a nineteen point lead. Trump lead, 55 percent to 36 percent lead over Mrs. Clinton in an NBC News/ Survey Monkey online poll. Fifty three percent of military and veteran voters said they feel comfortable in Mr. Trump’s ability to be an effective commander-in-chief of the country’s military, compared to 35 percent for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump also had a fifty three percent to twenty eight percent edge among military and veteran voters when it came to veterans’ issues.
Image result for trump veterans day
I could take over the country and I wouldn't lose voters!
            And this support has had an impact. It appears swing-state counties with especially high numbers of veterans helped propel Donald Trump to the White House. In a number of counties in Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by wider margins than his Republican predecessors performed against Obama in the last two presidential races. All three swing states have rich military traditions and numerous counties in which thousands or tens of thousands of veterans live. Exit polls suggest veterans voted for Trump by about a 2 to 1 margin, reflecting the typical Republican bent of this group of voters. Numerous veterans said before the election that they would vote for Trump despite the controversies, with some saying that even if they did not like his actions, they considered him a better option than Clinton. Some expressed anger with the seemingly endless wars that continued from President George W. Bush’s term in office through Obama’s time in the White House and Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Trump, therefore, is the veterans’ President.
            Donald Trump ventured into uncharted territory when he suggested that if elected he might remove some of the top generals now running the military. While the Republican presidential nominee slammed the foreign policy of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he also targeted the top officers who have served under them, who are not political appointees and have defined terms of appointment. Individual generals and admirals have traditionally been removed from their posts for misconduct or a failure to perform their duties. Firing a group of them en mass would be unprecedented. Should the commanders refuse orders or resign, Trump could replace them with loyalists. Trump may not only drain the swamp in Washington, he may be America’s man on horseback.

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