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No American left behind by @BloggersRUs

No American left behind

by Tom Sullivan


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I had plans for another post entirely when the first thing I saw this morning was this thread:

In a later tweet, Splitcoil worries his thread came off as chest-thumping. It is not even clear he was in Afghanistan in the military, but his story echoes what I've heard from a few vets. Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas says he went into the army a Republican and came out a Democrat. Everybody had a job. Three hots and a cot. Health care. Purpose.

Markos wrote this in 2006:

There's a reason most vets running for office this year are running as Democrats. The military is perhaps the ideal society -- we worked hard but the Army took care of us in return. All our basic needs were met -- housing, food, and medical care. It was as close to a color-blind society as I have ever seen. We looked out for one another. The Army invested in us. I took heavily subsidized college courses and learned to speak German on the Army's dime. I served with people from every corner of the country. I got to party at the Berlin Wall after it fell and explored Prague in those heady post-communism days. I wasn't just a tourist; I was a witness to history.

The Army taught me the very values that make us progressives -- community, opportunity, and investment in people and the future.

Different times, a different army, and different Republicans, he acknowledges. But what Markos took from his service echoes Splitcoil. Not all vets come away with that.

I had their experience in mind when I wrote one of the first 30-second spots for our 2008 Blue Century radio campaign. Titled "Left Behind," it read:

VO: Think No Child Left Behind is a goal everyone can embrace? Then why not No Worker Left Behind? No Family Left Behind? No American Left Behind?

VO: We train our soldiers – never leave a team member behind. It’s a code of honor. Why is that good enough for our troops, but not the rest of us? Been struggling as an army of one? Don’t stand alone.

VO: Register. Vote. Volunteer. Learn more at Blue Century dot org

A friend with a chronic illness struggling to pay her bills and keep her house heard it and cried.

For all the veneration of the military conservatives demand, they are quick to dispose of its supposed values in the "by your own bootstraps" civilian world. The point of "Left Behind" is why should that vaunted esprit de corps end at the post fence line? John Rambo, struggling with PTSD, says in First Blood: "For me civilian life is nothing! In the field we had a code of honor, you watch my back, I watch yours. Back here there's nothing!"

In "I've got mine, Jack" America, no one is watching your back, and the strain is eating at people. It's why my friend cried.

Suicide rates in the U.S. rose 25 percent between 1999 through 2016 reports the Centers for Disease Control, and by 30 percent in half the states. Suicides this week by CNN host and chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade show that for all their celebrity and money, America didn't have their backs.

Celebrity suicides get a lot of press. Suicide by guns and opioids get little.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, spoke with CNN:

"The most common method was firearm, followed by hanging or suffocation, followed by poisoning," Schuchat said. "Opioids were present in 31% of individuals who died by poisoning." She added that intentionality is difficult to determine in cases in which a person dies by overdose.
"Give people a minimum feeling of security and support, and they will take risks to do important things." Take that away and they retreat into ideological bunkers and into self-medicating. They become prey for con men who, rather than address their problems, give them Others to blame for them. And here we are, with white nationalists marching in the streets and their spiritual leader occupying the White House.

Democrats in Congress last summer trotted out their "Better Deal." Is it another five-point plan or is it ten? Who knows? More importantly, who cares? People in pain, people in despair, people, urban or rural, who feel America has left them behind don't vote for policies. They vote for people they feel have their backs. Democrats need to demonstrate they do on an emotional level, not convince them with charts.

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.