Posted: 12/30/2003 9:55:30 AM EDT
Military Times Poll
Today's Military: Right, Republican And Principled
By Gordon Trowbridge, Times Staff Writer
Who do you think has higher moral values? Members of the U.S. military --
66%, U.S. civilians -- 2%, Both have about the same standard -- 31%
The 2003 Military Times Poll reveals a military more conservative, more
Republican, and one that considers itself to be morally superior to the
nation its serves.
The figures add fuel to a debate, ongoing since at least the end of the
Vietnam War, over whether there is a gap in attitudes between America and
its military and whether that is a cause for concern. Especially troubling,
some observers say, are indications that military members do not believe the
nation's civilian leadership has their best interests at heart.
The poll found:
*About half described their political views as conservative or very
conservative; four in 10 called themselves moderate; and only 7 percent
called themselves liberal.
*More than half called themselves Republicans, and just 13 percent said they
are Democrats. Recent polls of the general public show the nation evenly
split, with Democrats, Republicans and independents making up about a third
of the population each.
*Two-thirds said they think military members have higher moral standards
than the nation they serve. More than 60 percent called the country's moral
standards only fair or poor.
In follow-up interviews, service members repeatedly said the choice to
serve, by itself, demonstrates moral quality above most civilians. Once in
the military, many said, members are wrapped in a culture that values honor
"Even if you don't have it when you enlist, they breed it into you to be a
better person," said Army Sgt. Kevin Blanchard, a cavalry scout with 3rd
Squadron, 4th Cavalry at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. "When you go home you
see how you're different than the people you grew up with."
Many also mentioned what they considered an increase in sex and vulgarity in
*Respondents were evenly split on the question of whether civilian leaders
have their best interests at heart.
To some observers, the figures are yet more evidence of a troubling divide
between the military and civilian society.
"The country and the military profession are best served by an officer corps
that is apolitical," said Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel and
professor of international relations at Boston University. "That doesn't
mean that officers don't vote, but for them to collectively identify
themselves with one or the other party strikes me as simply unhealthy."
University of North Carolina professor Richard Kohn co-authored a 1999 study
on the civilian-military gap issued by the Triangle Institute for Security
That study, which surveyed thousands of students at staff colleges, also
found a military sharply more Republican and conservative than the nation,
and one at odds with civilian leaders on a host of issues.
"The alienation from the 1990s continues, and was not simply based on hatred
of Bill Clinton or distrust of the Democrats, as some argued about our
results," Kohn said in an e-mail interview. "It's endemic to the highly
professionalized, all-volunteer military of the last generation."
nice reading, good to hear
I can't recall a time when the collective membership of the US Armed Forces considered themselves anything but "more conservative, more Republican" and "morally superior to the nation it serves".
It's easy for them to forget who they work for and why they exist. Sometimes a little too easy.
Members of the military may "naturally" be more conservative than the populace. But the fact is that those members also are not blind. They can see who REALLY supports them and honors them, and who spits in their direction or despises them. The conservative movement has gone out of it's way to support the troops -- period. And some liberals have put their beliefs aside and shown support of the troops. But many have thrown their hissy fits, pointed their peacenik fingers, and cast names (Democratic Underground anyone?). And the Klinton administration was obvious in it's low regard for the military. Any soldier with half a brain is capable of seeing who honors them and truly cares for them -- that's why even with a high percentage of 'minority' soldiers, the majority of soldiers is still conservative and Republican (regardless of race or ethnic background).
In some parallel universes, the US military is overwhelmingly liberal. Think about it: they government employees, very high proportion of minorities, low wages, they're only there because they lacked opportunities back home or to get money for college, and Republican hawk policies take them from home and family. OF COURSE the military is liberal, right?
If you try to explain to DU'ers that the military is overwhelmingly Republican, they just can't believe it. "Who told you that? Karl Rove? Rush Limpballs? Why would soldiers be Republican?"