Friday, September 5, 2008

I confess - I am prejudiced!

The current election campaign brought it to the surface and I finally have to admit to myself that I am prejudiced. I measure people's character in part based on their history of service, military service or some other civil service, to our country.

For years it has been in the back of my mind - unconsciously evaluating someone based on what they have contributed to their country. In casual or deep conversations with old friends of draft-era age, I usually assumed some kind of military service background. More and more often I discover that that assumption is faulty and I remain surprised and puzzled. I can't help wondering if many people's current attitudes about national and foreign policy are limited by this lack of experience. This is precisely the kind of background our parents, the silent generation, relied on for their perspectives on politics and our national leaders brought to their decision-making process.

When I worked for the US Senate, newly retired from the US Air Force, I found more of my colleagues without military service experience than those who did. Since many of them were considerably younger, I assumed that was a direct result of their coming of age in the post-draft era. When I started tracking senators with actual military service, I was taken aback by lack of any military experience by so many members of Congress and suspect their overall judgement in national security and foreign policy is affected by that gap.

Applying this to the current national elections scene, I can only admit that service experience, military or civil, is something I look for and expect from our leaders. Granted, traditionally you find it somewhat less often with women, but nevertheless, I look for it and it affects my assessment of a candidate. And let me hasten to add, a longtime member of Congress with little other experience does not cut it for me. I want my politicians to serve the people (of the country, not necessarily only those of their district) for a period of time, then go back to other pursuits to continue becoming well-rounded citizens, not remain permanent politicians. Yes, I also confess to being an insistent fan of term limits.

And now you know!