A few weeks back I saw a car at an ice cream stand with a Go Army sticker and a Trump-Pence sticker. I wanted to ask the driver how anyone in the military could support a draft dodger like Trump, but I didn’t want to disrespect the elderly vet.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

How any active duty military or self-respecting veteran can support Donald J. Trump is beyond me. Trump is a man who mocks their service in every word and deed, buying his way out of military service with a phony bone spur, insulting Gold Star families, demeaning POWs and MIAs, misusing the military for his personal political interests, coddling our enemies, alienating our allies, failing to take seriously the bounty Putin has put on U.S. troops and destroying the constitution our troops are sworn to defend.

Trump’s disapproval rating among active-duty military has risen from 37% when he was elected to 50% today, but he still has more support among the military than he does among civilians. I don’t get it.

We all thank veterans for their service, but the ranks of veterans are growing thin. In World War II, 16 million Americans served, 11% of the U.S. population. Today, there are only 1.3 million active duty military, less than one-half of 1%. Only 7% of Americans are veterans, and of those who served only 10% saw combat.

My father served in the Merchant Marine during World War II, the Navy during the Korean War, and came out of retirement to skipper a freighter between Europe and the Middle East during the first Gulf War. A lifelong Republican, Dad would have recognized that Donald Trump is not a patriot, also that he is not a conservative or a Christian. He voted for Obama twice.

What I find most insightful is the jaundiced view that distinguished veterans have of our undistinguished president.


Gen. Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush, has warned, “We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the President has drifted away from it.”

Gen. James Mattis, who served as secretary of defense under Trump, also condemned Trump’s unconstitutional acts.

“Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath (that he did) would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens,” said Mattis, “much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

And Gen. John Kelly, who served as Trump’s chief of staff, ended up believing Trump was unfit for duty.

“I think we need to look harder at who we elect,” Kelly said. “I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?”

Trump has refused to commit to honoring the results of the November election unless he wins. He has also floated the unconstitutional idea of postponing the election until he thinks he has a chance of winning. And now he is trying to defund the U.S. Postal Service to prevent voting by mail.

What does it say about the character and ethics of a man when he recognizes that the more people vote the less likely he is to win? The way things are going, we may need the military to remove Trump from office when he loses.

The fact that an unstable, petty, malevolent man is the commander-in-chief of America’s armed forces is perhaps the most pressing reason to remove him from office.

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