Maximizing and Leveraging the Military Veteran Vote in 2020 and Beyond
By Paul S. Gardiner
In the broadest sense, the 2020 national political races are shaping up to be a choice about the form of government the United States will have. The basic choice is between (1) conservative candidates who want to protect and maintain America’s Constitution and constitutional republic and (2) far-left candidates who believe that the Constitution largely is outdated and that America needs to embrace socialism or socialist-leaning policies and laws.
Examples of the ideas and goals espoused by far-left liberals who feel the Constitution is outdated include: (1) eliminating the Electoral College; (2) maintaining open borders to the United States; (3) providing illegal aliens with free education, free medical care, and other taxpayer-provided benefits; and (4) implementing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s socialist “Green New Deal.”
The 2020 election is different from previous national elections in that the true values and beliefs of the political far Left have been exposed, such as an outright disdain for the Constitution, America’s Founders (a bunch of “old white men”), millions of “deplorable” conservative voters, and much of American history.
Heretofore, the usual and principal strategy to convince military veterans to vote for a particular candidate is to inform veterans about what the candidate has done and will do for the personal benefit of veterans. A supporting strategy is to also inform veterans about what the candidate has done and will do for America as a whole.
Experience indicates that many veterans want nothing to do with what they consider to be “politics” — they want nothing to do with the process of elections and consider practically all politicians to be alike, i. e., in the race for themselves, selfish, arrogant, making promises and not keeping them, etc. President Donald Trump is somewhat of an exception to these beliefs!
With few exceptions, all military veterans took an oath, a life-long oath, to support and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Experience has shown that the great majority of veterans continue to honor this oath, expressing great love and affection for America and its republic. Many veterans, young and old, continue to search for ways to serve and defend our great nation.
The charters and/or bylaws of the major veterans organizations (American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, etc) stipulate that no endorsements will be made for any political candidate or political organization. Thus, a Republican candidate or Democrat candidate usually will not be allowed to give a presentation asking for votes at local-, state-, or national-level veteran functions. However, a presentation about what America’s form of government might look like in the near future most likely would be allowed, thus giving an opportunity to mention the candidate who truly would protect and defend America’s Constitution and republican form of government.
The 2020 national election represents an ever-intensifying battle of ideas and values, including a battle for the integrity and respect for the Constitution that most, if not nearly all, veterans strongly feel must be safeguarded and protected at all costs. It is believed that today’s political and cultural battlegrounds require a different strategy to gain several million additional votes from veterans for conservative candidates.
Rather than a candidate (or campaign spokesperson) trying to appeal to veterans by stressing what the candidate can do for veterans and/or stressing how much the candidate loves and cares for America, veterans need to be presented with a short, concise summary of what truly is at stake in the 2020 election, namely, the integrity of the Constitution and America’s constitutional republic versus a socialist or socialist-like takeover of the national government.
The overarching approach to veterans for their votes and support needs to be based on their inherent loyalty to the nation and to the protection and defense of the Constitution against the desires of the political far Left. For sure, statements can be made about how a particular candidate has helped and will help veterans with their health care and benefits, etc., but the main emphasis needs to revolve around the real threat to the Constitution from the political Left.
Veterans are used to having missions to accomplish; thus, their mission for the 2020 election is to do everything they can via the ballet box to protect and defend the Constitution. Due to the urgency and importance of the situation, an appeal also needs to be made for veterans to function as “force multipliers,” thereby leveraging and expanding their defense of the Constitution by securing additional votes for conservative candidates from non-veteran voters including independents, “moderate” liberals, and hopefully a large number of young Millennial voters. Veterans have a sphere of influence among their families, friends, business associates, etc., where efforts can be made by highly motivated veterans to gain many additional votes for 2020 conservative candidates.
Suitable, bullet-type literature and short videos specially designed for veterans need to be made available for group presentations and so forth. Veterans need training and suggestions on how they can appeal to people in their sphere of influence to gain votes for conservative candidates in 2020. In this regard, a short, concise narrative for veterans to use when talking to people needs to be developed.
On a national basis, veterans need to be approached per the above strategy, primarily in states considered to be high risk for conservative candidates. If substantial numbers of veterans become voter “force multipliers,” this may very well make the difference in some of these states.
Finally, it should be noted that there are approximately 21 million living American military veterans. Roughly four to five million of these men and women currently belong to a veterans organization of some sort. Depending on the success of the strategy proposed herein, and in order to institutionalize this effort for future elections, consideration should be given to the formation of an entirely new, apolitical veterans organization dedicated to the defense and safeguarding of the United States Constitution via the ballot box. The name of this new veterans organization could be “Veterans Alliance for Defending the Constitution” to signify its unique mission and importance.
Such an organization could attract not only veterans belonging to established veterans organizations but also (and more importantly) a multitude of relatively inactive veterans who want to continue serving their nation and honoring their oath to defend the Constitution by actively supporting political candidates who cherish and treasure the United States Constitution.
Paul S. Gardiner is a retired Army officer, Vietnam veteran, and member of the American Legion. A graduate of the US Army War College, he and his wife of 50 years, Karen, reside in Hoschton, Georgia.