AirTalk for August 14, 2014

Should military officers renounce political activity, including voting?

AFGHANISTAN-DEFENCE-ARMY

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images

Recruits performs drills at the Afghanistan National Army Officers' Academy (ANAOA) in Qargha district of Kabul on October 23, 2013.

Congressional candidate Art Moore faces an uphill battle trying to unseat fellow Republican incumbent Tom McClintock.

Now the McClintock campaign is taking issue with Moore's lack of voter participation. The 36-year old former Army captain and current major in the Army National Guard said he made a conscious decision to stay away from the ballot box — a choice also made by former military leaders such as Dwight Eisenhower, George C. Marshall and George S. Patton.

On his website, Moore explains, “A professional officer corps that is unbiased politically, able to follow orders and provide the nation with expert military advice regardless of which party or elected official is in power, is important.” Of course, many military service members vote, but they are warned against overt political activity.

In 2012, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, criticized a political advocacy group made of former Navy SEALs. Dempsey said, “One of the things that marks us as a profession in a democracy is it's most important we remain apolitical. That's how we maintain our trust with the American people. The American people don't want us to become another special interest group. In fact, I think that confuses them.”

Is a there a difference between political action or protest and filling out a ballot? Why do some military service members think it’s important to remain impartial? Is a vote for a presidential challenger a vote against the commander-in-chief?


With files from the Associated Press.

Guest:

Dru Brenner-Beck, Former Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army

Dr. Don Snider, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at West Point; Senior Fellow in the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE) at West Point


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