In case you’ve been living under a rock, we’re in an election year. This November, Americans will take to the polls to elect a new Commander in Chief. Many of us have watched news coverage of the candidates’ campaign efforts and tuned in for one of the 22 presidential primary debates that have been televised since last August (TWENTY-TWO?!). Others have even showed up to rallies to support our favorite candidate.
As military families, we’ve been briefed on the do’s and don’ts regarding political campaigns—the Department of Defense (DoD) even has well-defined directives for Armed Forces members:
No marching or riding in political parades.
No display of partisan political signs at one’s residence in military housing.
Don’t wear your uniform to, or be an official Armed Forces representative at, any partisan political event.
Don’t speak before any partisan event or gathering that promotes a specific cause or candidate.
Basically, don’t do anything except vote?
Well, not exactly. The DoD explains there are things service members CAN do:
Register to vote.
Express your personal opinion about candidates…just not as a representative of the Armed Forces.
Display political bumper stickers on your personal vehicle (but nothing bigger).
Attend partisan events, rallies, or other activities as a spectator not in uniform.
Though none of these rules apply to military spouses or family members, it’s smart to consider what you do and don’t share, participate in, and identify with.
So, with such a laundry list of do’s and don’ts, why should any military family give a hoot about this election? Why bother? Only 1% of the American population serves in the military…1% can’t make a difference.
That, my friends, is where you’re wrong.
Many elections in our nation’s history have been decided by a margin smaller than 1%. From presidential elections to legislative elections, every vote matters. And if it wasn’t a margin of less than 1%, it sure was close. Remember in 2004 George W. Bush won the popular vote and defeated John Kerry? That victory margin was a mere 2.4%.
Military families SHOULD care about voting in this year’s Presidential election.
You have the opportunity to decide your next Commander in Chief. This person will have the final say on important issues, like Sequestration (remember when your commissaries closed, and your MTF doctors weren’t on call?), foreign war, and your service member’s earned benefits.
The next President will make the call on whether your loved one will deploy in support of continued war.
Sure, there’s been 22 presidential primary debates in the last 8 months, and I think I can speak for many of us when I say those debates have been…interesting. But regardless of how many rules and regulations the DoD has for participating in political activities, the one that matters most is that you CAN vote. And you SHOULD.
There’s a reason military units don’t go into battle alone. There’s strength in numbers, and though 1% seems small, if this community banded together, the impact will be huge.
Between now and November 8th–when voters will take to the polls–NMFA will be spending time making sure this message is loud and clear: your vote matters! We’ll be sending out helpful information to make sure as many military families as possible are registered to vote and who make their voices heard by choosing the next Commander in Chief in November’s election.
You are the 1%. The small, but mighty 1%. And just like we always say here at NMFA: TOGETHER WE’RE STRONGER.
Do you have questions about voting? Not sure where or how to register? Leave your questions in the comments and we’ll answer them in upcoming blog posts!
Posted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager