The Commander-in-Chief speaks: “We’re patriots first”
In the aftermath of a hard-fought election campaign journalists are already trying to gauge the military’s reaction to it. Mark Thompson of Time asked for my comments, and he included a few in his article this morning. Allow me to pass to you the fuller input that wasn’t able to be included in his short piece. Here’s what I offered:
In 34 years in uniform I served administrations of both parties, and I found that the personal qualities of those selected for political appointments in the defense establishment can be more important than pronouncements in party platforms or campaign rhetoric, so it’s vitally important to pick the right people for these leadership positions.
I also added this: I would also hope that retired flag officers return to the military’s apolitical tradition, as opposed to the overt partisanship we saw from some during the campaign. I don’t mean to suggest that retirees should not serve again in government, but simply that I believe that retired generals and admirals should not give partisan endorsements to political campaigns (a subject I discussed more fully here).
Here’s the part I really wish Mark could have included:
Because the armed forces is the most trusted institution in American society – and one of the most diverse – it can do the nation a real service by being a beacon of unity of purpose. It can show the country how people from virtually every background can work together to achieve real success not just for themselves, but also for the American people and their allies writ large. Coming together on a basis of mutual respect is something America needs now, and the military can be an example.
I just can’t emphasize enough how important it is for all Americans to come together after a campaign like the one we just witnessed. As our President-elect Trump said last night:
Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
I could not agree more. Moreover, I invite everyone to listen not only to Secretary Clinton’s very gracious statement where “she urged her supporters to give President-elect Donald Trump “an open mind and the chance to lead,”” but also to the remarks of President Obama. The Commander-in-Chief rightly called for unity, and made this vitally important observation: “We’re not Democrats first, we’re not Republicans first, we’re Americans first. We’re patriots first.”