There is a dissonance in the relationship between both political parties and military veterans.

Republicans seem to feel that symbolic recognition of veterans by way of parades and ceremonies is enough, while Democrats appear too busy passing meaningful legislation for them to bother with the amenities.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s “ice cream social” quip in the second gubernatorial debate drew more ire than the dearth of benefit legislation from the administration of Gov. LePage.

Sen. Susan Collins voted in lockstep with her Republican colleagues to cut TRICARE health care benefits for military retirees in December 2013 and blocked Veterans Affairs benefits legislation in February,

But Michaud took no credit for assisting South Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, in getting the compromise benefits bill through Congress.

Despite LePage’s neglect and Collins’ deliberate obstruction of veterans issues, both incumbents rode easily to victory on a wave of empty ceremony and superfluous gesture.

It falls upon the Democrats to augment their quiet and substantial legislative work with public demonstrations of support. Republicans, on the other hand, must substantiate their public gestures with some tangible substance.

John M. Flagler