Sunday, September 25, 2016

A vet's vote in the most important election of a lifetime

"Roger Angell, a senior editor and a staff writer, has contributed to The New Yorker since 1944, and became a fiction editor in 1956." Angell served in the US Army Air Force in the Pacific theatre of WW II and has voted in 18 presidential elections. He considers this one in 2016 the most important of his life.

Angell will vote, gladly, for Hillary Clinton.

The first debate impends, and the odds that Donald Trump may be elected President appear to be narrowing. I will cast my own vote for Hillary Clinton with alacrity and confidence. From the beginning, her life has been devoted to public service and to improving the lives of children and the disadvantaged. She is intelligent, strong, profoundly informed, and extraordinarily experienced in the challenges and risks of our lurching, restlessly altering world and wholly committed to the global commonality. Her well-established connections to minorities may bring some better understanding of our urban and suburban police crisis. I have wished at times that she would be less impatient or distant when questions arrive about her past actions and mistakes, but I see no evidence to support the deep-rooted suspicions that often surround her. I don’t much like the high-level moneyed introductions and contacts surrounding the Clinton Foundation, but cannot find the slightest evidence that any of this has led to something much worse—that she or anyone has illegally profited or that any legislation tilted because of it. Nothing connects or makes sense; it beats me. Ms. Clinton will make a strong and resolute President—at last, a female leader of our own—and, in the end, perhaps a unifying one.

But he is also motivated by the specter of a Trump presidency.

We know Mr. Trump’s early transgressions by heart: the female reporter who had “blood coming out of her whatever”; the mocking of a physically impaired reporter; the maligning of a judge because of his Mexican parents; the insulting dismissal of the grieving, Gold Star-parent Khans; the promised mass deportation of eleven million—or two million—undocumented immigrants, and more. Each of these remains a disqualifier for a candidate who will represent every one of us, should he win, but we now are almost willing to turn them into colorful little impairments. “Oh, that’s ol’ Donald—that’s the way he is.”

So given all that, which I am sure you know by heart, why am I once again bothering you with Trump's "transgressions"? Angell explains.

... I stick at a different moment—the lighthearted comment he made when, in early August, an admiring veteran presented him with a replica of his Purple Heart and Mr. Trump said, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” What? Mr. Trump is saying he wishes that he had joined the armed forces somehow (he had a chance but skimmed out, like so many others of his time) and then had died or been scarred or maimed in combat? This is the dream of a nine-year-old boy, and it impugns the five hundred thousand young Americans who have died in combat in my lifetime, and the many hundreds of thousands more whose lives were altered or shattered by their wounds of war.

I take this personally, representing as I do the last sliver of the sixteen million Americans who served in the military in my war. I had an easy time of it, and was never in combat, but, even so, as I have written, I experienced the loss of more than twenty close friends, classmates, and companions of my youth, who remain young and fresh in memory. ...

I too take it personally. All Trump's other falsehoods and fabrications I can deal with as a partisan observer of the political scene. But this one really bugs me. You see, like Angell, I served in the US Army during the Vietnam era for three and a half years (1963-1966). Like Angell, I was never in combat. But unlike Trump, I gave my country three years of my time (as a voluntary enlistment) and an extra six months extension to complete two tours in the far east.

Donald Trump has never done anything for his country - nothing! He has remained on the sidelines, dodging the draft and doing only those things that enriched himself and fed his narcissistic appetite for looking good. Angell wraps up.

Mr. Trump was born in 1946, just after this cataclysmic event of our century, and came of age in the nineteen-sixties, when the implications and harshness of war were being debated as never before, but little or none of this seems to have penetrated for him—a candidate who wants to give nuclear arms to Japan and South Korea and wishes to remain unclear about his own inclinations as commander of our nuclear triad. This makes me deeply doubt his avowed concern for our veterans or that he has any sense of their sufferings.

I harbor no doubt. Trump's concern for our veterans is all about looking good. And as a vet, that pisses me off.

Veterans for Trump is an oxymoron. There should be not one veteran voting for Trump.

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