Assumptions, Assumptions

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Navy photo / MCS 2nd Class Gulianna Mandigo

Chief Petty Officers at Naval Air Station Jacksonville salute a new crop of chief petty officers in September.

Tuesday was Election Day. I have voted in every Presidential election since 1972, when I was first able to vote at age 20. Congress finally figured out that if you could fight and die for your country, then you surely could vote to ensure those who sent you to war considered who they were sending. That was before the All Volunteer Force, but it was the beginning. Back then I was a Democrat, and I didn’t join the Navy until 1979. But I do have this question:

Why is it that people seem to assume that because you are a military veteran, you are a conservative?

As soon as I moved to Kitsap County, Wash., and declared myself a Democrat when I registered to vote, I started getting all sorts of mail and phone calls from Republicans. I can throw the mail away without looking at it, but until I got Caller ID on my phone, I would answer the phone and be besieged by political solicitors. With Caller ID, the only phone calls I answer are those from people I know. But from the repeating numbers on my phone’s call log, I know those others do not give up!

I do have to admit that when I was in the Navy, although I was registered as an Independent, I mostly voted with the Republican Party.

After all, my livelihood was tied to the Republican agenda of a strong military, with pay and benefits comparable to the civilian sector. At the time we were still in the Cold War, and the military infrastructure was geared towards maintaining the status quo of military superiority to the Soviets. I also have to admit that I voted for George W. Bush against Al Gore in 2000. I soon realized what a mistake that was. Even before 9-11, it was clear that Mr. Bush did not think the closeness of the election was a mandate for moderation. Indeed, he took the opposite tact, and forced the two parties even further apart.

Although I am a registered Democrat, I do not completely buy the party line.

But I do relate more to the liberal agenda than to the conservative agenda. First of all, I believe in equal opportunity and equal civil rights for all, women, minorities, gays, everyone. I don’t think the conservatives have a monopoly on being Christian; indeed, I think the “moral majority” of the right wing of the Republican Party is the most uncharitable group I can think of, hypocritical and not living Christian values at all. I support the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms, but I also support gun registration and positive identification for those who buy guns, a background check, and a ban on automatic weapons for personal use.

I don’t think that because you have money that you are a better person than anyone else, or that you deserve more benefits than anyone else. I support the pro-choice agenda, but I don’t think that abortion should be used as a birth-control method. I believe that contraceptives ought to be available at very low cost to everybody. And I don’t believe the government, and special interests, should tell me what I can and cannot do with my own body.

But I am also for the death penalty for heinous crimes. No bleeding-heart liberal on that count here.

I believe the military can be both efficient and effective while still supporting social programs (Social Security, Medicare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, etc.). I support the government being run more like a non-profit business…checks and balances, attention to detail about expenses, frugality in buying what is needed, not wasting either people or resources — and that includes training and research funds — and hard decisions about what is really needed, without political influence.

I think a balanced budget can be achieved by reduction in government and government regulations.

But I think that the government should absolutely be involved in limiting corporate monopolies and things that pertain only to a few (rich) people. The government needs to be involved in banking and loan regulations, and in general keep an eye on businesses because their main purpose is to make money, leaving us little people in the dust while bigwigs rake in the dough and laugh at us when we ask for a larger salary.

I think there should be a minimum living wage, and healthcare for everybody. I find it hypocritical for my military friends to oppose “Obamacare” when they are full-fledged members of the biggest socialized medicine of all: the military and VA healthcare systems.

I also think the government should get out of the religion business. It should maintain marriage as a civil event, and not worry about who gets married to whom. It can still accept a church wedding, but the benefits of marriage should not be limited to marriages between a man and a woman. Marriage is as much about economic and legal realities as it is about love and raising children.

But regardless of my political leanings, I think it is not only a privilege to vote, but a responsibility to vote. It is our way of changing the government without one shot being fired in anger. And that is something to think about and value. I hope you voted.