Friday, August 05, 2016

Is Trump Alienating Military Communities?

Here in Virginia the key to carrying the state in state-wide elections is to win in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, the home of a huge military population.  Earlier in the Week the Virginian Pilot carried an editorial slamming Donald Trump's attacks on and slights to the military and individuals such as the Khan family who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.  Here are highlights:
[T]there comes a time when principle must take precedence over partisanship. That time is now.
Khizr and Ghazala Khan moved to the United States in the 1970s. He is a lawyer by trade, and they are now residents of Charlottesville. In 2004, their son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a native of the United Arab Emirates and a graduate of the University of Virginia, was killed while serving in Iraq.
The family’s sacrifice, like those of other fallen soldiers, is incalculable and can never be repaid, even by a grateful nation. But it might have gone unnoticed by most Americans were it not for the Khans’ decision to speak on Thursday evening at the Democratic National Convention.
In a powerful address, Khizr Khan took aim at Donald Trump, assailing the candidate’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States and questioning what he has done in service to this nation.  They were pointed words. And they found their mark, drawing the ire of the notoriously thin-skinned Trump.
Finally, when asked by George Stephanopoulos about Khan’s charge that he has sacrificed nothing, Trump responded, “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.
It’s despicable to compare difficulties in business to the loss of a loved one on the battlefield. And it’s unconscionable for a politician to malign a Gold Star family in order to deflect criticism.
[T]hose who represent Hampton Roads, home to so many men and women who willingly march into harm’s way on our nation’s behalf, cannot be silent.
If he wins in November, Trump will be commander in chief of the armed forces. He will be entrusted with the power to send troops into danger.
To treat one family’s sacrifice so dismissively and cavalierly calls into question his fitness for that role. A man who cannot summon the humanity to empathize with the Khans has no place in the Oval Office.
A piece in the New York Times suggests that a growing number of military families and voters may be reaching the same conclusion about Trump's unfitness for office.  Imagine an impulsive man, with no empathy for others recklessly putting the lives of our military men and women at risk on a whim. It's terrifying.  Here are highlights from the Times:
Mr. Trump’s grating comments about the armed services have plainly become an obstacle to courting voters he must convert if he is to overtake Mrs. Clinton in the polls.
For some Republicans and independent voters intrigued by Mr. Trump, his conduct around the military remains a sticking point. In Colorado Springs, near the Air Force Academy and the headquarters of the United States Northern Command, Marianne Quast, the mother of an Air Force veteran, said she had been drawn to Mr. Trump’s bluntness earlier in the campaign. Now, Ms. Quast said, she resents Mr. Trump’s disrespectful language about the military, including his response to the Khans and his joke about the Purple Heart. She said she trembled at the thought of her son serving under such a volatile president.
“I’d honestly worry about a third world war. All those poor kids still serving. God forbid we elect Trump,” Ms. Quast said. She added, “Clearly Trump has no respect for veterans, no matter what he says.”
Mr. Trump has continued to face reproach from prominent veterans in elected office this week. Mr. McCain released a searing statement on Monday invoking his own family’s long history of military service to denounce Mr. Trump’s comments about the Khans. On Wednesday, Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he could not vote for Mr. Trump.
Advocates for veterans have spoken out against Mr. Trump. The Veterans of Foreign Wars called his comments about the Khans inexcusable.
In some pockets of the extended military community, Mr. Trump has become a source of disagreement among friends.
In Portsmouth, Bill Pierson, a V.F.W. and American Legion volunteer, said he believed strongly in Mr. Trump and would give him the benefit of the doubt on a handful of ill-advised remarks.
But Phil Young, a 27-year veteran of the Army and the Marines, walking alongside Mr. Pierson, was uneasier about the Republican nominee, sharing reservations that underscore the roadblocks confronting Mr. Trump. Mr. Young, 61, said he was a registered Republican but was still undecided about his vote. “The Purple Heart thing didn’t endear him with me, and also what he said about John McCain being a P.O.W.,” Mr. Young said. He added, “I find what he says about the military interesting, considering that he never served.”

Let's hope a majority of military families in Hampton Roads decide that they do not want to put their lives or the lives of family members in the hands of a narcissistic madman. 

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