Last Tuesday evening I was laying in a hospital bed at the Veterans Affairs medical clinic in Salisbury. With little else to do I tuned into the Democratic presidential debate.
There’s little chance I’ll vote for any of those five candidates. While I liked Jim Webb to some extent, I think the current state of the democrat party has pushed his views further left. Additionally, he didn’t exactly present himself well.
In fact, the debate looked a lot like a haggard old political hack surrounded by four clowns. While the other three clowns gave him a run for his money, Bernie Sanders stuck as the most circus-ready.
I learned something new about the self-identified socialist senator last Tuesday night. Sanders filed as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. It seems ironic that I learned this fact while laying in a bed at a V.A. facility. If Sanders didn’t feel he was prepared to serve his country at war, I simply don’t think he ought to serve our country as president.
Filmmaker Oliver Stone dropped out of Yale to serve in Vietnam. Having graduated from the United States Naval Academy, famous Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach had to put his NFL career on hold while he served in Vietnam. Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, served in Vietnam.
Of course, there are a number of politicians — on both sides of the aisle — who did their duty to country as well. Al Gore, John Kerry, Colin Powell and John McCain are just a few examples.
World War II saw even more folks take time out of life in order to fight for our country. Jimmy Stewart put his acting career on hold at the age of 32 to wear the uniform. His friend Henry Fonda did the same.
Bob Barker flew fighter planes in the Pacific. Joe Dimaggio quit hitting home-runs for the New York Yankees and enlisted in the Air Force.
It wasn’t just the dudes. Bea Arthur, one of the “Golden Girls,” was a typist and a truck driver in WWII.
Hugh Hefner, Mel Brooks, Elvis Presley and Charlton Heston all served. The list of folks who put life on hold and on the line to pick up an M-16 or an M-1 Garand or take a seat in a cockpit or behind an Army typewriter goes on and on.
I’m not a fan of voting for any candidate who hasn’t served in the armed forces. I have a hard time stomaching the thought of an individual becoming commander-in-chief if he or she hasn’t ever put a helmet on and trained to go to war.
I wish we could turn back to the times of Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush and John F. Kennedy. When or if these men ordered troops into battle they knew what they were doing — because they had been there and done that.
While I don’t think military service should be a constitutional requirement for a president, Sanders’ conscientious objector status turns my stomach. It was his legal right to file as a conscientious objector, but it makes him unfit to be the commander-in-chief.
While young men all around him were being drafted to go abroad and fight America’s war, Sanders said “no thanks.” Nearly 60,000 of Sanders’ contemporaries came home in caskets draped with flags. 100,000 or so more were wounded, but Sanders apparently had better things to do.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau there were 21.8 million veterans in the United States in 2014. Each one of those is more qualified than Sanders to be the commander-in-chief. They were serving while Sanders was ensuring he didn’t serve.
I am no prouder of anything I have done in life than my active duty service in the U.S. Army. I put my big-boy pants on and went to Afghanistan.
However, I really look up to Vietnam era veterans. I made the conscious decision to sign on the dotted line. Many of those guys were drafted. They were told “drop what you are doing because you’re going to war.”
These veterans stepped-up to the plate and went to fight a war thousands of miles from home, even though many of them disagreed with the conflict.
Sanders, however, snookered his way out. Now — after sucking a paycheck from the U.S. taxpayer in congress since 1990 — Sanders wants to be commander-in-chief.
I conscientiously object to Sanders becoming president. If Sanders couldn’t serve his country at war, he shouldn’t serve as commander-in-chief.
Andy is a staff writer for The News and can be reached at (336) 415-4698.