Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Credibility on Defense: Where Have The Democrats Gone?

I just read an excellent article by Michael Totten; interesting, thought-provoking, not particularly controversial. Have a look.

The basic question is: why are Democratic candidates no longer seen as credible in security matters?

In quoting a Washington Monthly article at length, and commenting on it, Totten raises some serious points -- such as why, no longer comfortable to call himself a Democrat, he is forced to accept the label 'neoconservative'... and why the growing numbers of such people should alarm the Democratic Party, but doesn't seem to do so, more's the pity. (To which I can only add: amen, brother! I never voted Republican in my life before 2004.)

I think he's right on-target in describing what motivates Democrats to public service these days, and why such motivations often don't include knowledge of (or background in) security matters.

I have just one beef. The article ends with the thought that Democrats, unlike Republicans, don't have serious security-minded think tanks to generate policy. Uh, okay, I'll buy that... but how about dealing with the problem at the source? Why are so few Democrats volunteering for military service? It was no accident that, by some accounts, close to 80% of active-duty American military personnel voted for George W. Bush in 2004.

This is self-reinforcing. Republicans see the military in a more positive light than Democrats do, and thus are more likely to serve. And soldiers that perceive greater support from a Republican administration will tend to vote Republican. Given that the current conflict is likely to last a long time, I'd think the Democrats would be worried about this.

With any luck, the Democratic Party will take a long, hard look, over the next several years, at the 20% (or so) in uniform that did vote their way in 2004. Some of them will go into public service... and might stay with the Democrats, if they're not pushed away.

And perhaps, just perhaps, those Democrats who don't trust the military will find time to re-think their positions. They might find that people who serve aren't so crazy, after all.

Daniel in Brookline



You ask why so few Democrats enlist in the military. Perhaps it's because Democrats enlist, then change to Republican upon being slapped in the face by cold hard reality.

I have no special knowledge; it's only a thought.
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