There doesn’t seem to be an in-between opinion with service members on Ron Paul. He is either loved or despised. Praised or loathed. Working in politics and being around many folks who have served and now work in politics too, I have had the opportunity to have the Ron Paul conversation on several occasions. With older veterans and service members I find that they tend to agree more with Congressman Paul’s ideas on war, foreign affairs, and military spending. With the younger generation of servicemen I see them divided on the topic. The ones who are downtrodden on Afghanistan tend to agree that we need to pull out as quickly as possible. The ones who still believe we should be in Afghanistan vehemently disagree with Paul.
Congressman Paul is an Air Force veteran and relies on his own experiences in the service to campaign to and court the military vote. Many veterans and active service members find comfort in his service and the fact that he can sympathize on what they do while they serve. Many others are taken back that a man who served in the military could come off, as they perceive, to be so anti-military.
To compare and contrast for all of you readers, I asked many friends in politics who served in the military for their opinions and thoughts. The two I chose to highlight seemed to define most clearly the differences in the Ron Paul political camps — one Pro-Paul policy, the other Anti. The Pro-Paul fan is a retired sailor in his 40s — the Anti is in his 30s and is currently serving in the navy. Each has had completely different experiences while they served in the Navy. I have made the personal decision to keep their names out of the article because of the recent issues we’ve seen play out with those in the military and how politically involved they are or aren't allowed to be as of late.
First, let’s examine the statement I gathered from my Pro-Paul friend.
"For me, its the following issues that make me a Ron Paul supporter.
(1) CONSTITUTIONAL: I think service members respect the Constitution. They take an oath to support and defend it and probably appreciate a public official who uses that document as a litmus test about what government can and can't do.
(2) FOREIGN POLICY: Ron Paul wore the uniform of this great country. He understands how severe war is and adopts a constitutional foreign policy, which by design, is supposed to be deliberative. Service members have no problem running towards the action, to defend this great nation, but I think they appreciate a leader who thinks long and hard before committing American blood and treasure to overseas engagements.
(3) PATRIOTISM: Military members are (thankfully) very patriotic. They understand that our budget trajectory will end in a default or hyperinflation. I think they appreciate a commander, who has the courage to make the hard decisions, regardless of the fallout, to do the right thing to save this great nation. Ron Paul is the only candidate with a plan to balance our budget and restore the Republic."
Now, examine the statement from the anti-Paul Friend
"I understand the simple appeal of a candidate who advocates a much higher standard for military involvement to service members stretched thin by decades of high (operations) tempo combined with drawdowns and budget cuts. The problem is that Rep. Paul is, like his supporters in and out of uniform, naive to the nature and scope of the threats we face as a nation. The only question is, is Dr. Paul unaware, or intentionally misrepresenting the national security environment for personal political gain? I think it’s the latter."
See what I mean as to how there's (almost) no in between on service members and their thoughts on Paul? The single, middle of the road exception came from another friend, A Marine. "I guess I don't have very strong thoughts on the guy. I mean I think his wanting to cut military spending is a little extreme, but at least he never dodged the draft and served his country honorably, even if he was in the Chair Force." he said in the sarcastic and joking way Marines are known to razz guys in the Air Force.
I have my own opinions on the congressman as a civilian, but this post isn’t about me or civilians and our thoughts. I will save my own opinions for another time. This piece is intended to convey the many broad and strong thoughts and opinions those who serve have on this controversial figure. And for the record, I have had the privilege of meeting Rep. Paul many times. He has always been kind and down to earth. Much more so than many other politicians I have encountered over the years. Agree with him or not, I do believe his campaign platform comes from a place of principal.