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The soldier, the citizen and the absentee ballot

Posted By Allan Wall On 11/19/2004 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

Editor’s note: As a special service for our readers, WND is running a series of dispatches from Allan Wall chronicling his transition from civilian life as he prepares to fight with his National Guard unit in Iraq. Allan will write for us as often as he is able in order to let our readers vicariously experience what people in his position are going through. We hope you will check regularly for Allan’s dispatches and encourage your friends and family to do likewise.

My fellow National Guardsmen and I, training at Fort XYZ for deployment to Iraq, received our absentee ballots and voted in the presidential election.

Members of the military actually have a better voting record than society at large. In the 2000 election, 51 percent of the U.S. electorate voted. But in the military, the figure was 69 percent.

I’ve been voting by absentee ballot for 12 years while living in Mexico, so voting by absentee ballot was no big deal for me. But this is the first time I’ve voted by absentee ballot while being an active-duty soldier.

And that raises several questions about my competing spheres of responsibility as a soldier and a citizen.

In the United States, the military is under civilian control. That’s why we have Secretary Rumsfeld, not Gen. Rumsfeld.

That’s as it should be. The alternative is a military that makes policy, meddles in politics and can even take over the government. It’s happened in other countries.

The dichotomy between the civilian and military spheres extends to each individual soldier . Most soldiers are citizens of the United States. But the characteristics and responsibilities of a soldier and those of a citizen are not exactly the same.

A soldier is commanded to obey, to carry out the policies of his government .

A citizen, on the other hand, has the right to question his government, and when an election comes along, to decide for whom he will vote.

When a man is both a soldier and a citizen, he finds himself exercising duties in different spheres of authority and responsibility.

And that brings me back to the 2004 election. Because I did something I have never done before.

I voted against the Republican candidate for president. Always before, I voted for the Republican. In 2000, I voted for George W. Bush. But this time, in 2004, I voted against Bush. I have just been too dissatisfied with Bush’s policies. It reached a point where I decided I could not vote for him.

I have been and continue to be in great disagreement with Bush’s immigration policies. The president publicly defends illegal immigration. He seeks to increase an already too-high level of legal immigration. And he encourages linguistic balkanization and divisive ethnic identity politics. President Bush continues to promote these policies regardless of their ill effects on ordinary Americans and our society. Internationally, mass immigration to the United States serves as a negative incentive for immigrant-sending countries. Why should Mexico reform its own economy when it can just export its poor to the United States?

Some say we should vote for Bush because he’s fighting terrorists. But how can you be serious about fighting terrorism if you favor open borders? It’s not logical.

George W. Bush is a big spender and promotes Big Government. He panders for votes, using the public treasury to buy them. He encourages people to think of government as the solution to their problems.

Bush seems to have little concern for the U.S. Constitution. And he supports racial preferences and group rights over individual rights.

It’s true that on these and other issues, Kerry supports the same policies as Bush, or worse ones .

I didn’t vote for Kerry either.

Despite all the rhetoric and partisanship, on the national level, there is not so great a gap between Republicans and Democrats as they would have you believe.

Even on the social issues, there is less of a difference than advertised.

Take homosexual marriage , for example. Both Bush and Kerry say that marriage is only for a man or a woman. Both support homosexual civil unions. And both are very careful never to say anything negative about the homosexual lifestyle. Essentially and practically, they are in agreement. True, Bush says he supports an amendment to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. But up until now, he’s done almost nothing to bring that about.

The Republican and Democratic parties are both moving in the same direction, towards a Big Socialist State. The difference is the Democrats are a little farther along the road. In a few years, look for the Republicans to support what the Democrats favor today, as the Democrats have moved a little farther on down the road. That’s how it works.

What we need is a real alternative.

On my absentee ballot, I voted for Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party. It’s my small way of speaking out in protest, of saying that I’m not in agreement with the direction my country is headed.

As you know, the election was won by Bush. Congratulations to President Bush. I just hope that those who voted for him will hold him accountable.

Now, getting back to the citizen-soldier dichotomy.

The way I vote as a citizen does not determine the commands I obey as a soldier. In fact, at my level, I don’t deal with the big picture anyway. I serve as part of my unit, within the chain of command, to fulfill my unit’s mission.

The military is not a democracy or a republic. In fact, it can’t be.

The military exists to serve our civilian government and the people of the United States.

A military force needs a chain of command. At the top of the chain of command is the commander in chief. The commander in chief of the U.S. military is the civilian president of the United States. According to the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States …”

So regardless of my political views, and for whom I vote, as a soldier the U.S. president is my commander in chief. That means President Bush is my commander in chief. My commander in chief is sending me to Iraq, and as a soldier that’s where I’m bound to go.

That’s how I see it.


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