Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Formative Experience

I don't ever forget the fact that Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas is an army veteran. Upon reflection, I probably could tell you that he was a Salvadorean war refugee too (a central American immigrant who came here for a better life, served in the army, and now is the titular head of one America's largest civic communities? Say it ain't so, Tancredo!). I do, however, often forget that he used to be a loyal Republican. Campaigned for Henry Hyde, voted for Bush in '92--the whole works. And what changed him?

This American Prospect article details how Moulitsas' time in the military made him a Democrat. It's a fascinating read. A taste:
There's a reason most vets running for office this year are running as Democrats. The military is perhaps the ideal society -- we worked hard but the Army took care of us in return. All our basic needs were met -- housing, food, and medical care. It was as close to a color-blind society as I have ever seen. We looked out for one another. The Army invested in us. I took heavily subsidized college courses and learned to speak German on the Army's dime. I served with people from every corner of the country. I got to party at the Berlin Wall after it fell and explored Prague in those heady post-communism days. I wasn't just a tourist; I was a witness to history.

The Army taught me the very values that make us progressives -- community, opportunity, and investment in people and the future. Returning to Bush Senior's America, I was increasingly disillusioned by the selfishness, lack of community, and sense of entitlement inherent in the Republican philosophy. The Christian Coalition scared the heck out of me. And I was offended by the lip service paid to national service when most Republicans couldn't be bothered to wear combat boots. I voted for Bush in 1992, but that was the last time I voted Republican.

Certainly lends an interesting counter-point to this Josh Trevino post (over at the new and fascinating-looking Swords Crossed blog, which I introduce here).

1 comment:

Stentor said...

The comment that the military is an ideal society is scary to me. The military seems to embody everything progressives hate -- unquestioning obedience, strict control of your daily conduct, conformity ... as well as rampant sexism and homophobia.

I guess it's a matter of which element of progressivism you emphasize -- the "less rules" part, or the "more community" part.