Friday, April 3, 2009

He's not just President, He's your next boss

Originally published: August, 2008

OK, I’ll admit, I was drinking beer.

Here’s the setting – B concourse at Reagan Airport in DC, eating fish and chips (with waaaay too much garlic), and drinking some really good 20 oz beers. I’m hard into some people watching and the watching is great. Lots of very inappropriate muffin tops, several weird little pseudo-dogs in foo-foo outfits, and your usual heavyweights (man, are we putting on some weight, or what?)

In the midst of my people watching, I see this older guy stumbling a bit as he comes down the concourse. The old guy is wearing a t-shirt that says USAF, and there is a big guy with him who is obviously his son. The son looks like a slacker. I watch them go up to California Tortilla and order. The son pays, then does some of the condiment things for his dad. I reserve judgment on slacker-boy for the moment.

Now, getting off a flight and moving up the concourse, is a group of four real low-lifes. They have those goofy Capri pants on, flip flops, and buzz cuts. I pick them as some sort of counter-culture guys right away. Then, to my total amazement – right in front of me, they fall into a rank, and they all do a “pass-in-review” high five for some kid being wheeled down the concourse in a wheelchair. Apparently the kid can’t talk, but he sure can high five, and he smacks every hand the slackers hold out – all the while smiling like he was gonna bust his face. Then, the slackers turn and walk up the concourse and I notice they are all wearing digital camouflage day packs with name tapes on them. They are clearly soldiers, and I hastily and humbly revise my assessment.

So I get on my plane to Ft Lauderdale. I was a bit late because I was trying to brush the garlic out of my mouth (total waste of time). I get to my seat, and find I’m sitting next to USAF and his slacker son. Slacker son doesn’t waste any time and asks if I know anything about Ft Lauderdale – to which I respond in the affirmative. By the time we’re at cruising altitude, I learn that slacker kid paints cars in Maryland, and his dad hasn’t been doing too well since a mild stroke. So, slacker kid is taking his dad on a cruise – something USAF dad has wanted to do all his life. Seems slacker kid grew up all over the world like a typical military brat of his day, and thought he owed his dad something now that he was doing so well painting cars. Seems like the kid inherited a good bit of sense for what is right from his career USAF dad.

So what’s my point?
Military folks do the right thing.

Yes, there are guys in the military who cheat on their wives. There are unhappy families and unhappy kids. Some guys get in trouble, and we’ve all done things we aren’t so damn proud of at some time or another.

But in general, military people are spring-loaded to do the right thing. Their moral compass points to within a few degrees either side of magnetic north, and they know which end of the pointer is the one that counts. Sure, we don’t always follow the arrow, but military folks get it right most of the time.

Because of that, I trust your judgment – and so do the overwhelming majority of your fellow Americans. But you are doing me, yourself, and all those admirers a huge disservice if you don’t express that judgment by voting. Your country wants you to exercise that higher level of judgment they credit you for, and express your opinion on the candidates that are running for elective office this year and every year. Historically, you do poorly in that regard (and yes, in my time, I admit I was a huge slacker on voting). But you are a new breed of military – as professional and upright as any the world has ever known – and much better informed and connected. And you need to do the right thing now. I challenge you to get informed about candidates and issues, and cast an informed vote.

Count US In is dedicated to finding out the information you need to get you to cast an informed vote. We’ll call on the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and even Veteran’s motorcycle clubs. We’ll use the vast resources of the League of Women’s Voters. We’ll enlist the aid of your local elections supervisor, who in most cases is looking for some way to contact you anyhow.

Yes, literally thousands of volunteers are standing by to help you find out about the race for School Board in the district where you are registered, but haven’t set foot in for the last 18 months. Don’t smirk – that School Board position is very important to the future or your kids. So is the position of Commander-in-Chief, and if you’ve been paying attention to AFRTS, you probably know that seat if up for grabs in November as well.

Other people in the US are electing a President.
You’re electing your next boss.

But the process is confusing and you have other priorities. I understand that. But there is no shame in asking for a bit of help when you’re otherwise occupied with issues of equal or higher priority (such as survival). Come on. You wouldn’t fly an airplane without a checklist. You wouldn’t go on patrol without checking you buddy’s gear for him. You wouldn’t strap on a parachute without a JMPI. Hell, you don’t take a dump without someone covering your shiny fourth point of contact. So why the hell are you trying to do this voting thing on your own?

Let Count US In help. Send us a note, drop us a Tweet (@militaryvote). Tell us where you vote, and we’ll get some folks to push you info and run things down for you. We’ve got you covered on this side.

Your vote is your voice. Speak up.
Ruck the Vote!!!

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