With “civil war” trending on Twitter every other day, our leaders should at least try to not inflame tensions in a very divided nation. A good first step would be to stop using American troops as political props during presidential speeches – since now even they are giving off a ‘dictator-y’ vibe.
In all seriousness, no President — Democrat or Republican — should be allowed to use troops that are visible in any part of their presidential speeches. Not one glance, not a framed image — just stop.
And no, Republicans shouldn’t use troops as political propaganda either. It’s in vogue, but wrong, and the public should demand a stop to it.
It was impossible to ignore the two Marines who stood on either side of Biden throughout his aggressive speech. The message was clear: the U.S. military is behind Biden. Are you?
Using U.S. troops to strengthen a presidential speech bastardizes the military’s purpose: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It blurs the line between dangerous enemies and political opponents, leaving millions of Americans on the political right wondering if they will become the next home raided by the feds simply because they want lower taxes, believe life begins at conception, or support the Second Amendment. Or millions of Americans on the left wondering if the feds will raid their homes over energy consumption, ‘anti-fascist’, or LGBTQ+ advocacy.
Americans were already sounding the alarm over the politicization of the military; framing a divisive presidential speech with a pair of Marines doesn’t help. Eight former secretaries of defense and 6 former chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff are warning that civilian-military relations are “strained” and urged a return to foundational principles for the sake of preserving those relations.
In 2020, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley joined then-President Donald Trump for a photo-op, during which Trump held up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church. Milley subsequently apologized for taking part in the political act.
“I should not have been there,” Milley said at the time. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military is involved in domestic politics.”
Milley was right. The military participating in presidential photo-ops and speeches does make it appear like it’s taking a side in domestic politics. We’re all looking forward to Milley condemning Biden’s use of the military for political purposes, too. Any time now. Still waiting…
Our leaders have a responsibility to make it clear that the U.S. military is impartial, so all Americans — even the 74 million so-called “extremists” — can begin to trust Washington, D.C. once again.
To all presidents: if you think fanning the flames of division is the best way to get out the vote — fine. Do your thing. Just leave the Marines in their barracks.