It’s election season, as if anyone couldn’t all ready guess. Democrats and Republicans are squaring off and it is on every inch of every commercial that flitters across my television screen. The election rhetoric is even showing up in my Facebook feed! It seems like no matter what I do I can’t get away from it. And really, neither side is playing fair!
But all this political fervor is good… right? Its in your face message is supposed to stir up emotions and get people to the polls… right? It’s supposed to make us responsible for our own government… right? After all the saying goes “Bad politicians are elected into office by good people who don’t vote!”
As a political science student I, Ollie, would say it’s always better to be involved than to passively watch others make all the decisions (like them or not). Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but everyone is required to be civil about it. And that is where this blog post comes up. A few people I know have been posting about politics and the military. I know I have just as much piss and vinegar in me when it comes to politicking… but they are driving me CRAZY! So, lets start with the basics. There are 3 of them:
1. The United States Military- regardless of any branch- DOES NOT PARTICIPATE in political elections.
2. The military IS NOT ALLOWED to endorse any candidate.
3. Active duty military members are bound by Federal Law, Department of Defense (DOD) directives, and the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. – again in English… they got rules to follow!
Now does that mean that military men and women and/or their military dependent family members can’t participate in politics? NO! How dumb is that? It’s still a FREE COUNTRY last I checked… and my Popeye is still defending it! (I’m pretty sure he would have mentioned something if that had changed.) All the above just means that military men and women plus their military dependent families have to make special caution that their own political beliefs remain separate from that of the military. For those that are still scratching their heads here is how it works:
An active duty military service member CAN:
- *Register, vote, and express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues- BUT not as a representative of the Armed Forces.
- *Join a political club and attend its meetings- BUT not in uniform.
- *Display a political sticker – BUT it can only be on the member’s PRIVATE vehicle.
An active duty military service member CAN NOT:
- *Participate in partisan political fundraising activities, rallies, debates, conventions (including making speeches in said convention), or manage campaigns, REGARDLESS of wether a uniform is worn BECAUSE an inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement could be seen as the MILITARY taking sides.
- *Publish partisan political articles, letters, or endorsements signed or written by the member that solicits votes for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause. HOWEVER, letters to the editor are allowed ONLY if they state that it is the MEMBER’S OPINION and not that of any branch of the Armed Forces.
- *Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
- *Participate in any activity that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly associating the DoD, the Department of Homeland Security or any branch of the Armed Forces (including the Coast Guard- believe it or not they are considered part of our military too!) with a partisan political activity, a political party, or candidate!
Of course there are more cans and can nots when it comes to being politically active in the military- google them. The whole point is that our Armed Forces are neutral. It makes no difference wether the Democrats or Republicans lead. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines etc. will always obey their commander-in-chief.
Oh… one more thing… “BAD Politicians are put into office by GOOD people who don’t vote”. Get out there and make it happen! November 2- MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT!