Democrats Are Ignoring One Key Voting Group: Veterans

Democrats have a rare opportunity to gain a foothold against the Republican Party. If they come up short, it may be in part because of a failure to pursue veterans.

Comments: 36

  1. Take note that NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has downgraded the NY State Division of Veterans Affairs from a stand-alone state agency to an invisible section of the State's housekeeping agency. The Governor has not appointed an official to run the agency. The agency's remaining staff is undrected and demoralized. I was told several years ago by a member of the Governor's Office, We are going to let this agency go. The DVA mission, spelled out in State law, since 1945 has been to help veterans navigate the very difficult bureaucracy and rules of the federal VA to obtain the benefits they earned by their military service. Over 70 years, many tens of thousands of NY veterans were successfully helped to obtain VA health care and many millions of dollars in direct benefit payments from the VA. Why does this Governor now ignore the health care and financial needs of New York's veterans? Tom Lewis, NYS Director of Veterans Affairs, 1988-91.

  2. Trump was driving around New York in his Cadillac with DJT vanity plates when the late John McCain was in his last year as a POW. His last year of 5 years. How any veteran could cast a vote for Trump is beyond me.
    For the record I was at Camp Radcliffe in An Khe, Vietnam when the incoming mortar rounds were being walked into the camp announcing the beginning of the Tet Offensive in February, 1968.

  3. There are 1.5 million vets in FL. Locally, I see no efforts by my party to attract them. Gillum's making no discernable effort to appeal to them, either. Hillary broke my Democratic Party in two, and the left-over hack superstructure that supported her is still running the show

  4. @John From Florida

    I couldn't agree more. I wonder if the Democrats in general aren't operating under some fifty-year-old paradigm that makes them vaguely think of themselves as the anti-war, ergo non-veteran party. In 2018, I would suggest that the biggest anti-war faction going might be those of us who have had to serve post-9/11 and are weary of the forever wars.

  5. @John From Florida truly sad! The Democratic Party also had its first chance in decades to support a military veteran candidate in South Florida, Ret. USN CDR Demetries Grimes who could have easily defeated Republican Carlos Curbello, but instead threw its support behind the “identity politics candidate” with no business or leadership experience, and who doesn’t even live in the 26th District...

  6. @John From Florida. That attitude — and buying the lies — is what broke the party.

  7. “But historical data indicate that a candidate’s military experience isn’t enough to win over Republican voters in red-leaning districts. (No Democratic military veteran has toppled a House Republican incumbent since Tammy Duckworth’s 2012 rout of Joe Walsh in Illinois.)”

    Check your data again. Connor Lamb’s spectacular win in Western PA in 2018 in the red south hills of Pittsburgh....from The NY Times April, 26, 2018;

    “Conor Lamb, a Democrat, pulled off a narrow but major upset by winning a special House election in the heart of Pennsylvania Trump country. Mr. Lamb won in the state’s 18th Congressional District, a reliably Republican seat in recent elections and an area that Donald J. Trump won by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016. The victory is an ominous sign for Republicans ahead of this year’s midterm elections.”

    Tom Perez is repeating the same mistakes the DNC made in 2016 and will have the same results. For want of a phone call the DNC could support and further mobilize Vets and win in PA, OH, MI and WI.

    It isn’t brain surgery. It’s basic math.

  8. @JAS and KY where Ret. USMC LTC Amy McGrath defeated the DCCC candidate...But, they missed their opportunity to support Ret. USN CDR Demetries Grimes in a key battleground district.

  9. My father was a Vietnam veteran who was also a life-long Democrat. During his working years (the 1970s-2000s), his party affiliation was more an extension of his union membership and his blue-collar striving to give his children a better life than he was given. Growing up hunting and being in the Army, he owned guns his whole life and was a member of the NRA until the early 2000s when he recognized that it had gone off the rails entirely (the NRA of his youth was really about responsible gun ownership, firearms education, and discounts) when he renounced his membership not wanting to contribute to the NRA's politics. I never saw him so frustrated about politics as I did early in 2016--just months before his death--when Trump's ascendancy began. I would love another day or week with my dad, but I am sometimes grateful that he didn't live to see Trump get the nomination or win the presidency.

    Veterans are a diverse community of people and it's not easy to "go after their votes" in a traditional sense. What I know is that there are many vets who recognize the terrifying reality that wars are begun by the wealthy and won and lost on the backs of the poor. A candidate that authentically seeks to protect America and its values, care for those who have borne the battle, and give greater opportunity to those who strive for a better life would have earned my father's vote and will get mine.

  10. @Jason. My dad fought in WWII. He was Republican but would have been sick at the current crop and couldn’t have voted for someone like T.

    My husband was career military and is a VN Vet — and a lifelong Democrat.

    My Vet daughter and Vet career military son-in-law vote Democratic. And My grandson is in the Air Force currently.

    MOAA (military officers) is not political. But they report on priorities and issues in Congress. I notice that the needs expressed (and usually shared with other military organizations) the day to be ones that Dems address must effectively.

    We just don’t spend all our time and effort on the politics. A great flaw.

  11. It takes people, money, time and organization to develop messaging and grassroots. The Democratic Party has shown this vet, I think still a member (says it all doesn't it?) of the Veterans and Military Families Council that they have stupidly written off both veterans and their families. Why? Perhaps the Clintons know; I darn sure do not.
    The DNC should heavily fund and hire quality people to reach out to veterans. They will if they are serious about winning elections because no matter where we are most of us are proven leaders.

  12. It is amazing that a draft dodger (Trump) whom insulted and ridiculed a veteran and hero of the Viet Nam War (McCain) still managed to get the votes of a majority of the veterans.

  13. @Wilbray Thiffault That says far more about the Democrats than about Trump.

  14. @Wilbray Thiffault- don't forget that Bill Clinton was also a draft dodger who was elected as president, presumably some veterans voted for him too.

    Just pointing out that many of the wealthy and connected avoided the draft that disproportionately affected working class U.S. citizens. (And no, I am not a Republican, and my father served in Vietnam as well)

  15. @Wilbray Thiffault The real reason that Trump was elected was Hillary Clinton. No other excuse can be given. She and the Democratic Party made their pact with the devil and we got Trump as the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Had the Democrats been more honest with themselves and the country they would have given Bernie Sanders the nod and Trump would have been another asterisk on the list, like Barry Goldwater. Instead we have a nation busting moron who riles the like minded residents who are looking for excuses and reasons instead of trying to remedy what they see as wrong.

    And do not forget that Adolph Hitler was elected once as well.

  16. My son, an Army veteran, has been in and out of the VA hospitals in Florida for the past several months. He says that veterans in the hospitals say things have improved and they think Trump is the reason. They actually believe that.

  17. As an Army veteran, I have seen firsthand that the GOP has a stronger ground game when it comes to reaching out to veterans and organizing them. The irony is that many vets I know, especially those who have served in combat, tend to identify more with progressive thinking on education, healthcare, foreign affairs, etc., than the Democratic bureaucracy realizes. A failure to reach this demographic in a meaningful fashion is an opportunity wasted.

  18. @Blackstone I am a disabled vet. I have never been contacted by either repubs or dems. That being said, I am a lifelong democrat and will continue to vote my beliefs.

  19. Tom you are talking about a bureaucracy to help negotiate a bureaucracy. Wouldn't it be easier to make the federal bureaucracy simpler. I don't see either party doing that

  20. I recently left working at the VA after being a federal employee for 12 years. My work was a therapist for combat Veterans. I have said since the 2016 election that the Democratic Party (and I am a Democrat) has totally negated engaging the Veteran population. I think there can be a lot of good work done on behalf of Veterans, and this topic, but I wanted to a acknowledge it first. It is very challenging to speak about the VA and the Government when you are part of the system. There are many really good services that Veterans are entitled to, but I think that sometimes systemically it's hard to know what they are, and I think that it is such a large bureaucratic system that the "system" as a whole does a terrible job in educating the public about what is there. Usually, someone complains, or there is a headline that causes a knee jerk reaction to fix one thing, but the it is more a systemic issue that needs to be addressed. I am now happy to be on the outside and I am looking forward to researching systemic issues that need both attention and change.

  21. I don't know about the vets but the Dems are talking too much and doing too little if they don't shoot themselves in the foot.

    Case in point, they talk about impeachments (of Trump and even Kavanaugh), those are not get the vote out for them but for the Republicans. While the #MeToo bunch protested in DC, Sen Elizabeth Warren* told her diehards she might consider the 2020 run, in the midst of her 2018 re-election campaign.

    The Dems have been out-maneuvered by the deplorables by 3 or 4 steps ahead. When the Great Obstruction Posse made President Obama's initiatives, they didn't help. Instead, they wanted to push him every which way themselves. Tom Steyer threatened to withhold supports to the Dems if the Obama Administration gave a go ahead of Keystone XL extension. With supporters like him, who needs oppositions.

    So the Dems should learn to the political wisdom: speak softly but carry a big stick; instead of what they have been doing: speak loudly without clue

  22. * I voted for Sen Warren last time but I am so disgusted I may have to drag myself to the polling booth again just because every vote counts!

  23. Forgetting the veterans? How can it be? Can the Democrats get anything right? The activism focused on Women's Right is so important but there are so many other problems out there in America. Who is the leader of the Democrats?

  24. Sad. My senator, Bernie Sanders, has bern tireless in his support for and service to, veterans and their organizations. As former chair, and now ranking member, of the veterans affairs committee, he has tirelessly innovated bipartisan legislation for the health of veterans and their families. He has dismayed many of us with his support for basing the troubled F35 aircraft here in South Burlington, a position he had taken in consultation with our Air National Guard. At the same time, he has stressed the importance of limiting combat operations to those that are truly necessary and truly achievable.

    I am not convinced that Bernie should make another run for the White House, but I do believe he probably will. If so, his genuine interest and expertise in veterans’ affairs will undoubtedly rattle the primary debates in ways we cannot fully anticipate.

  25. The Republicans are strategic and on-message. And they employ killer instincts when it comes to taking and holding power. They take nothing for granted. They can't -- they represent a minority. But wield one party rule.

    But that's not the biggest story of this moment. It's the failure of the Democrats to mount an effective counterforce - or even bring their full practiced team to the playing field.

  26. The Dems have this Marine infantryman solidly with the Blue . Semper Fi

  27. The Democratic Party needs the leadership and credibility military veterans can provide at a time we have the fewest number of military veterans ever in office. The Democratic Party’s interference in the Primary process against military veteran candidates and its failure to recognize the importance of the military veteran vote will ensure the Democrats’ losing streak continues.

  28. @CDR. One of the problems Dems have is that they put forth a lot more time and effort to actually help veterans than to do the political thing well. They make the mistake of telling the truth and providing explanations and details instead of vote-getting sound bites with little substance. If only they were better at being two-faced, if only they’d talk tough and act like they were saviors and no one else knew as much as they did, that science and history mean nothing in comparison with making loud angry noises to excite people (bread and circuses)... then they could compete more evenly with the Rs. They can’t even attack people who are good for the country but don’t have much power to make voters feel they need a protector. Definitely something wrong here.

  29. So true. I live in a district with a Senate race to replace a retiring State Senator who retired as a military colonel, The Republican candidate has a Veterans for Basile, but the Democratic candidate has no corresponding group for a district with a large number of veterans such as myself dependent upon the VA Hudson Valley Health Care system. I am a Democrat, but when I have issues for myself or for my disabled veteran son I always went to the Republican since Democratic staff lack any coherent knowledge of the issues veterans face.

  30. Current and former military members have been consistently dis-respected by this President and the failure of Congressional Republicans to meaningfully stand up to his transgressions. From badly treating the Gold Star parents of a killed military hero (Sgt Khan) to saying he only likes soldiers who don't get captured to being forced to fly the flag at the White House at half staff honoring Sen. McCain's death, Trump and the spineless Congressional Republicans have done everything in their power to dishonor your service. Active military members should think about this the next time they are on active duty, away from their families and in a war zone. Your Republican elected leaders say they have your back but they clearly don't. How many times do you have to get kicked in the teeth before you take action? Your chance is November 6th, up and down the ballot.

  31. Sorry to break it to these folks but I would say the last of the trusted US institutions are our Fire Departments.

    They are here to save lives and not end them in any form.

  32. For whom do veterans vote? For the best prospective Commander-in-Chief of the current armed forces or for the best prospective Provider-in-Chief for the retirees? Obviously (based on your article) the latter.

  33. They never had a problem sending them to Vietnam or pushing and shoving to invade Iraq. 99% of Democrats pushed and shoved to invade Iraq and later Libya ,they're still supporting the war in Afganistan .So Democrats ,in total ,don't have a foot to stand on with veterans.

  34. Here in the California CD39 we Dems are not ignoring vets! In fact, veterans are actively campaigning for Gil Cisneros! He is a vet himself, having served in the Navy for 10 years. And, he has supported causes that support veterans. When I volunteer at headquarters, veterans are always there helping and so many have come out to canvass for him.

  35. When are Vets going to wake-up and smell the PTSD? They have bee played by the RePubs ever since Bushwacker the Younger sent them off to establish Democracy in the Middle East with "The Army that they have. Not the Army that they want." (Dumbsfeld) All the RePubs have to do is wave the Flag and Vets come running like pigs to the slaughter. If Vets need Dems to explain to them how they have been played for fools, nothing will change. Vets need to stand up for themselves and join Progressives NOW!.

  36. As a Navy veteran, I don't find pandering to veterans necessary. I am a citizen just like everyone else and I in fact care more about my local politics (where real life inpacting decisions are made) than national politics. You can only vote for president every four years, why spend all of your time worrying about it when your senators and Congress members are more important. I've also found out from talking to many veterans that I am one of the few who aren't gaming the VA. It seems everyone leaves the military with at least 15-20% disability, me, zero. Also, please keep in mind not everyone who is a veteran is retired or planning on it. I know tons of people who were active for maybe 5-10 years and separated. The media, is clueless about veterans just like the power-playing politicians who use veterans like myself as pawns.