The relevance of military service in preparation for political service.

| July 19, 2015 | 3 Replies

I’m sitting back, rather indifferent to the Trump/McCain feud. What relevance does soldier experience have to being a politician? Truly, does experience firing a weapon, flying a plane or following orders in a bureaucratic hierarchy make one a better visionary or leader? I wondered these same things when presidential candidates John Kerry, George W. Bush and McCain all trotted out their actual and alleged military backgrounds as though that type of work would make for a better politician, rather than possibly a worse politician. For that matter, what does being rich, being a real estate developer, or being an entertainer have to do with being a good politician? If only the pushback against Trump were really about honoring military service rather than the GOP’s attempt to soften some of its embarrassing official and unofficial positions.

In our current highly corrupt elections system, I would think that better foundations for being a politician would include 1) an indifference to acquiring money above and beyond an amount necessary to support a truly modest lifestyle, comparable to that of those earning the median American household income, 2) a long-documented history of refusing to be bought off by big money, and 3) a humble reluctance to assume a position of great power. My suggested qualifications would disqualify almost every member of Congress, many of whom are borderline psychopathic.


Category: Campaign Finance Reform, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Historically, military service has been a very mixed bag in relation to the presidency. At one time, military leaders were like rock stars, so they already had a ready base of supporters when they moved into politics, but that hasn’t been the case since Westmoreland gored that ox with his false stats and body counts in Vietnam. But even before that, having been a general did not mean competency in the White House. Consider the generals we’ve had in office.

    Washington, Tyler, Taylor, Jackson, Grant, Garfield, Eisenhower. (I’ll stipulate that I may be missing a couple.) Of the bunch, maybe two were competent in office. (One was too short-lived to tell.) In the 20th Century, Eisenhower exhibited competence mainly because his big moment was as a bureaucrat.

    However, military service cannot be discounted as valuable if for no other reason that it is experience which pertains to the office. It’s just not the most important thing. But like business leaders, the assumption that military leadership predisposes one to success as a president is a myth. They are very different realms, even when they overlap.

    That aside, though: has it occurred to anyone that Trump is possibly a spoiler? He’s being a one-man wrecking crew. The GOP wants him gone, yet he often says precisely what the Party seems to represent. Rather than being an idiot he may be a mole. Just a thought.

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    Mark wrote, “…has it occurred to anyone that Trump is possibly a spoiler?”

    Indeed it has. Trump will never get the GOP nomination, but if he runs as an independent he could peel off Tea Partiers who might otherwise vote Republican. The cover of the July 27 issue of The New Yorker magazine tells the story — Trump as the party guest belly-flopping into the pool.

  3. Edgar Montrose says:

    In addition to the obvious — that his presidential candidacy is yet another self-aggrandizement for Trump, another pathetic attempt to show the world (but mostly himself) that he is relevant — he is also serving as the jester, the clown, the fool. He is so completely over-the-top on all Conservative issues as to be a caricature. This ultimately gives other Republican candidates the opportunity to actually appear rational when they take the very same ridiculous or reprehensible stands on the very same issues, but do so in a comparatively more refined manner.

    “Vote for me … I believe in our cause, but I’m not Trump!”

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