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Mission Before Me

At The Tank on National Review Online, I have written an article likely of interest to ThreatsWatch readers: Mission Before Me: On Supporting Vets Running for Public Office. It is a continuation of a conversation with a friend on Twitter.

I argue that, military veteran or not, it is unwise to seek specific expertise in a potential elected official. Rather, seek sound principles and character, because the issues facing today's elected representatives are too vast and each of vital importance to hang any hat on narrow expertise. Qualities that apply to sound judgment and solid decision-making in general are far more important than understanding the minutiae of any single given set of crises.

Below is why I tend to give the veteran the initial benefit of the doubt on that front, followed of course by full and proper vetting and judging of any and all candidates for office.

But there is also something unique about those who wear and have worn the uniform. And that is, on the whole, that one can comfortably expect the military individual to possess a certain set of core values and convictions that is on another level. They have put their money -- and their personal physical safety -- where their mouth is, in a sense. As I explained earlier in encouragement to a friend experiencing some professional stresses, there is an admirable -- and in times of stress and duress, irreplaceable -- sense of "Mission Before Me" that is sporadic in American civilian society, but commonplace in military service.

This reasonable expectation of character and principles is why more military members and veterans, when they begin thinking politically, find that they fall on the conservative side. Not all, by any stretch, but a majority. Many of them would actually be more along the lines of "classical liberals," but there is no room for them in the leftist-led Democratic party of today.

Saying so from experience, in most instances the military member joins with a sense of duty and these principles already largely in place, consciously recognized or not. It is only later that they take interest in or become aware of politics. And they find that, when they do, they happen to be conservative. It's not the other way around. And this is why they are confident in their views rather than responsive to rhetoric.

With the challenges facing us, from those already in existence to those being recklessly placed before and upon us and our children yet unborn, that sense of "Mission Before Me" will be the ingredient that pushes back the tide of encroaching socialism and the economic erosion that has followed every embrace of socialism in history. And with economic failure goes security and civil society as we have known it. Take a look around the world, or perhaps barely as far as Mexico, and have a look at the effect economic collapse has on both security and civil society.

To be sure, one's veteran status is no blanket assurance of character and principled conduct and decision-making. There are many examples. Congressman Jack Murtha (D-PA) comes immediately to mind, along with former Congressman Duke Cunningham (R-CA).

But there is something about the character of our men and women in uniform that affords us to both generally and quite rightly elevate them in certain regards with confidence. And in a nutshell, it is the common quality of "Mission Before Me," and attribute too rare by comparison among America's general civilian population.

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