A surge in political activism by America's veterans

As citizens vote this Tuesday in primaries across four states, political commentators will be closely watching for cl...

Posted: May 8, 2018 11:31 AM
Updated: May 8, 2018 11:31 AM

As citizens vote this Tuesday in primaries across four states, political commentators will be closely watching for clues about whether women will make this a historic year of empowerment. A record number of women are running: In the election cycle of 2016, about a thousand women called EMILY's List for help in seeking office; at last public count, over 36,000 women have called in this cycle. A surge in women's voting could make a huge difference this fall.

Yet this is not the only dramatic story unfolding in this year's election. For the first time in more than a generation, there has also been a surge in political activism among American veterans - people who have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan and want to fix things at home. At most recent count, according to the organization With Honor (for which I am an adviser), some 200 post-9/11 veterans are running for Congress alone.

These next-generation veterans, too, could begin to transform our politics.

In the early 1970s, as a young Naval officer transferred to Washington, I saw how meaningful military service could be to our political culture. Over 70% of congressional members were veterans. They were called "The World War II Generation" - young men and women who came of age during the war and saw politics as a way to continue their service to country.

Many of them were strong Republicans. Many were strong Democrats. But all of them, first and foremost, were strong Americans. They had fought under the same flag overseas; now they served under the same flag at home.

That's why Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, as far apart as two men could be on the ideological spectrum, still respected each other for service to and love of country. That's why Mike Mansfield, a towering leader in the Senate, asked to be buried at Arlington among the enlisted men who had fallen. Patriots - all of them, ready to fight over the issues but ultimately, for the country's sake, to come together to get things done.

We miss these patriots terribly in today's politics. Over recent years, as veterans of World War II and Korea have gradually left the stage, the number of veterans serving in Congress has shrunk dramatically. In today's House of Representatives, only 19% have worn a uniform. In 1971, 73% of the members of the US House were veterans. The disappearance of men and women who put the country first is one of the major reasons our politics are so mean, polarized and dysfunctional.

Enter a new generation that is now knocking on the door, ready to continue their service, eager to pick up the falling flag.

In the 2014 election cycle, Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts, scored an upset win in the House. Moulton was a Marine infantry officer with four tours in Iraq and three degrees from Harvard. He is already being seen as a possible national candidate.

In 2016, a veteran on the other side of the aisle, Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, won a breakthrough election to the House. Gallagher and Moulton have become friends and have worked across the aisle to co-sponsor meaningful legislation and get things done for the country. Gallagher has also quickly emerged as an influential leader and there are those around him who think he can go all the way.

Most recently, in a widely watched special election, Conor Lamb, D-Pennsylvania, won a House seat in Pennsylvania. Moulton campaigned with him on the final weekend before the vote. These veterans were all helped by an organization called New Politics that focuses on recruiting and training candidates to run for office.

Once veterans start running, there is a group called With Honor that helps provide critical financial support to help them win their races. The group was founded by veterans including Rye Barcott, who is extraordinary in his own right. Barcott was a Marine who came home to earn graduate degrees from Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School. Last year, he and his partner put future investments on hold with the successful investment business they had co-founded and leaped into politics.

With Honor's advisers include an impressive group of American leaders with strong bipartisan credentials, such as former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, and former Undersecretary of Defense Mich-le Flournoy.

With Honor's super PAC has raised some $10 million in commitments -- and counting. So far, the organization has endorsed 23 veterans running for Congress: 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Each has to sign a unique, cross-partisan pledge to work across the aisle with other veterans.

The aim of With Honor is to elect a group of next-generation veterans who can become an active caucus in the House of Representatives - a swing vote, if you will - that can form a fulcrum and change the political culture of the House and ultimately of the country.

Some of these veteran candidates are in harder-to-win races; it isn't easy to raise the millions needed to win the first time out, especially when you have spent a good deal of time in recent years serving overseas. But some of them will break through, because, as surveys show, voters lean heavily in favor of men and women who have worn a military uniform.

There is a silver lining to the situation our country faces. Talented American veterans are answering the call to serve again and help turn around what may be the most dysfunctional and least trusted US institution: our Congress.

The veterans who With Honor endorses are rightly seen as more trustworthy and reliable. They are in politics for a noble purpose. It is also a noble goal to support them so that we see the emergence of a new generation of elected American leaders who will put principles before politics.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1101185

Reported Deaths: 17557
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1441632231
Lake715041238
Allen65802880
Hamilton50322484
St. Joseph48966643
Elkhart39621543
Vanderburgh34317495
Tippecanoe30336273
Johnson27293465
Hendricks25947380
Porter25171386
Madison20749447
Clark19985277
Vigo18838308
LaPorte16924261
Delaware16480297
Howard16432311
Monroe16415219
Kosciusko13976165
Hancock12899185
Bartholomew12729189
Warrick12051190
Wayne11921267
Floyd11901226
Grant11755240
Morgan10276190
Boone9706121
Noble9094122
Henry9040165
Marshall8932147
Dearborn8866100
Dubois8751139
Shelby8101129
Cass8055127
Lawrence7939184
DeKalb7638107
Jackson752693
Huntington7475110
Gibson7019118
Montgomery6930123
Harrison688298
Knox6855115
Steuben655787
Miami6497109
Whitley644860
Putnam635583
Clinton619877
Wabash6080109
Jasper604992
Jefferson5710103
Ripley550292
Adams533781
Daviess5020117
Scott482880
Wells4733101
White470368
Greene463899
Clay459762
Decatur4548110
Jennings441766
Fayette438494
LaGrange421290
Posey404044
Washington385455
Randolph3834107
Fountain368762
Spencer357347
Fulton356872
Starke349073
Owen347577
Sullivan345754
Orange325571
Jay321950
Rush299632
Carroll290238
Franklin287144
Perry285153
Vermillion281158
Tipton248265
Parke247030
Pike245044
Blackford218744
Pulaski206458
Newton179752
Brown174050
Crawford168129
Benton163917
Martin151719
Switzerland145612
Warren132316
Union118316
Ohio91813
Unassigned0587

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1690217

Reported Deaths: 26587
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1772171827
Cuyahoga1648472640
Hamilton1125391528
Montgomery796451395
Summit705111199
Lucas620241020
Butler56096805
Stark527941171
Lorain41276642
Warren35509412
Mahoning35270771
Lake31622495
Clermont30804363
Delaware26791182
Trumbull26782616
Licking26297336
Medina25419351
Fairfield24256287
Greene24097372
Clark21748387
Portage20807281
Richland20686340
Wood19745246
Allen18638320
Miami17074348
Columbiana16571332
Muskingum16483206
Wayne15482306
Tuscarawas14158360
Marion13116194
Erie12479198
Ashtabula12417232
Scioto12288184
Pickaway12114153
Ross11526225
Hancock11321173
Geauga10726175
Lawrence10531172
Belmont10304234
Huron9633158
Jefferson9504227
Union944075
Sandusky9106166
Seneca8752157
Knox8663170
Washington8632158
Athens828996
Darke8288180
Ashland7873149
Auglaize7794117
Shelby7369133
Defiance7243115
Crawford7129150
Brown7072115
Fulton7058112
Logan6899108
Guernsey684284
Mercer683998
Highland6659119
Madison643889
Clinton6422106
Williams635899
Preble6194140
Putnam6126120
Jackson574096
Champaign570687
Perry561179
Coshocton5576104
Ottawa555499
Morrow509364
Fayette485370
Hardin480699
Gallia465478
Pike460176
Van Wert458993
Adams4531109
Henry426978
Hocking403093
Holmes3947140
Wyandot369373
Carroll354478
Paulding320551
Meigs303459
Monroe233661
Noble218047
Morgan212138
Harrison206953
Vinton184337
Unassigned06
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