A lot of people have asked me why, if I intended to be a serious candidate for the Delaware General Assembly, I didn't bite the bullet and run as a Democrat.
Here's a major reason why I can't do that:
Senator Thomas Carper (D-Fortune 500) has taken a firm stand as one of only three US Senators voting against the restoration of Cost of Living Allowances for retired military veterans.
Senator Carper is, of course, a former Naval aviator, who receives $1,400/month in retirement pay.
“We‘re making some progress on deficit reduction in this country, but our deficit is still a half-trillion dollars this year, and that's huge," he said. "If we are serious about making progress, all of us who are able to do something to help out need to do that. I think Americans are willing to do their part if asked, and I think they look to people like me to try to provide some leadership and set an example."
No, Senator Carper, we're not looking to you for any sort of leadership any more, unless we happen to work in the executive offices of a bank or a Fortune 500 company.
Despite being able to find a trio of retired general officers to call the military pension system "over-generous"--the reality is that military retirement is one of the fundamental agreements that the United States government makes on behalf of its citizenry with the people who bear arms in our defense.
Perhaps "people like me [Senator Carper]"--former officers who have led privileged careers as well-paid politicians with cadillac State and Federal benefits--cannot understand the future facing the men and women who volunteer for military service in this country today.
They face multiple overseas deployments into active combat, with all the included stresses of rampant sexual assault, Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, military suicides, divorce, depression, family stresses, life-altering wounds, and the ever-present possibility of a nasty death alone in a ditch somewhere in a foreign land. When they get home, they find that the part of the deal that included things like Veterans benefits in education or medical care is far too often not what they were promised. They have difficulty finding jobs, finding counseling, finishing their education, or breaking out of the nightmares and drug habits acquired in service.
For far too many retirees (especially enlisted), that military pension is the difference between making it (just barely) and not making it at all. You may not know, Senator Carper, about all the military retirees who are also on the SNAP benefits you voted to cut, or who rely on the stateside commissaries (that the Pentagon is contemplating closing) to feed their families.
Senator Carper has portrayed this as a vote of principle and leadership.
Principle and leadership would be demanding that our imperialistic military structure, bloated Pentagon budget, and militarized foreign policy be rethought.
So here's the deal: as long as Delaware Democrats continue to support a man who thinks that military retirement benefits are overly generous, who won't challenge the defense contractors and financial institutions that fund his campaigns, and who believes that "people like me" (which means other Democrats, apparently) support cutting benefits for the junior officers and enlisted people who put their lives and body parts on the line . . . .
. . . you won't find me calling myself a Democrat.
Tell me, somewhere, that there's an elected Democrat in Delaware willing to challenge this man's callous grandstanding . . .