I have always been an intuitive voter. I checked on candidates’ backgrounds, judged their accomplishments, but mostly I listened to what they said and how they said it. So far, in many years of voiting, I only have one major regret in using this process. I voted for Jimmy Carter rather than Gerald Ford. Not that Carter wasn’t right about most of the things he said – He simply wasn’t a good enough leader to get anything accomplished. Ford, on the other hand was right about much of what he said and was leader enough to accomplish most of what he wished.
During the Lincoln – Douglas Debates in 1858, President Licoln stated that he believed the black man to be his equal. It wasn’t the most politically advantageous thing to say to an almost completely white audience in Southern Illinois. By saying so, he doomed any chance he had of being elected to the Senate, but Lincoln was a man of principles who wouldn’t deny his values to get a vote.
In 2006, one of the two Illinois senate seats was being contested again. This time a young half black Harvard graduate was running for the seat. The similarities between the two contests were startling. In 1858, the United States was on the verge of its civil war. In 2006, the United States was waging simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One war was a necessity, the other was unjust and a sham upon the American people, and an unjust tradgedy for the Iraqi people and all those who died because of the war.
Like Lincoln, the young Harvard graduate refused to compromise his beliefs, and he publically denounced the war in Iraq. This was not the politically correct thing to do either. It would have been so much more easier for him to climb on the war wagon and praise President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq where no weapons of mass destruction were found and many thousands of people were killed as well as a country’s infrastructure destroyed.
Only weeks ago, I heard candidate Romney state that he’d put our fleets off the coast of Iran to prevent the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons. Brave thing for a man to say who has never served. Brave thing for a father of five sons to say when not one of them have served. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and say fight when none of your loved ones will make that sacrifice, when you have never done so yourself.
Such statements remind me of the Roman Emperor Augustus and how the Germans attacked and destroyed twelve of his legions. Instead of panicking, Augustus immediately dispatched messengers to his son-in-law Tiberius who was returning to Rome with his legions after several years of tough campaigning. Tiberius immediately turned his legions around and forced marched across Europe and pursued the Germans until he caught and annihilated them. His only thought was to make Rome safe. I wonder how Mitt would have answered such a message. Maybe he’d make a speech and say that he’d put his legions on the German border. Personally, I don’t think he or his sons would make the march.
What then about President Obama? Certainly, he has never served. He doesn’t look like a soldier, doesn’t act like a soldier, and has no military experience. But since becoming president, he has ended the Iraq war and made great gains in Afghanistan. More important, he has held the olive branch out to the Muslim world, telling them and showing them by action that he does not want war and has no designs or desire to change their religion. President Obama didn’t need military experience to be elected. Only with the greatest reluctance and after exploring all possibilities for peace will he go to war. Just like Abraham Lincoln in 1861. I don’t think Mitt measures up.