US election 2020: Military veterans on what's at stake

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Today we're featuring members of our voter panel who are US military veterans.

Does having served in the military impact these voters' feelings about the US election and who to support for president? How do they think their commander-in-chief has fared?

From Virginia to California, Arizona to New Jersey, four veterans give their verdict.

First up, Scott Nolan.

The son of a naval officer, Scott Nolan served in the United States Navy for five years and is now a criminal defence attorney in Fairfax County, Virginia. He is not really a fan of Donald Trump, but, much like he did in 2016, he is casting a vote for Trump as a protest against the direction he believes the country is going in.

Why does this election matter to you?

I am a veteran, a husband and a father. This election means turning over to my children the same well-ordered society with respect for individual rights and freedoms which I inherited, or turning over to them the chaos and victim politics of the unreasoning mob.

How does your background as a veteran influence your vote?

President Trump has consistently acted to preserve and recover American jobs and prestige. He has refused to allow bad treaties to stand just because that's easier and would make him more popular. He has insisted on respect for American rights and a recognition from our foreign partners that we do not intend to continue to support their ways of life without their full participation. This is particularly important to me as a veteran.

Moreover, Vice-President Biden seems to me to be a non-entity. He is a politician for politics sake, and wants to be president because that's the job with the most prestige. So far as I can tell, his agenda is to get elected. I also very much fear that he will be little more than a figurehead for the far-left policies of his party. The age of the Democratic Party as a social conscience is over, replaced by a party that actually believes the disastrous lies of socialism.

Tell us about your plan to vote.

I have already voted. I stood in line for almost three hours to make sure my vote was heard. I'd have stood there all day if I had to.

Next up, Michelle Dunkley.

Michelle served as a reserve flight nurse in the United States Air Force for 28 years, including tours of Afghanistan. She is a moderate voter who considers Joe Biden the more competent option and urgently wants Trump out of office.

Why does this election matter to you?

As a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, immigrant female who wore a military uniform and continues to work in healthcare, I've witnessed the dissolution of the country's status in the world. I'm concerned about my retirement, the security of the Constitution and the amendments. I'm also worried about NATO and the future of the WHO.

How does your background as a veteran influence your vote?

My veteran status enables me to look beyond the general views of the candidates and see where the level of military support has reached. After seeing opinions of people in other countries in the last few years, I've learned the damage done by the current administration may be long-term or permanent.

Tell us about your plan to vote.

I voted already through the mail and verified receipt of my ballot.

David recently retired from military active duty after 30 years of service, including in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Just Cause and tours in Iraq. Now a US Postal Service employee, he is dismayed by the actions and behaviour of President Trump, and is voting for Joe Biden.

Why does this election matter to you?

I'm registered as No Party Preference so I suppose that makes me an independent. I would say I'm left of centre.

As a black man, I'm appalled at the rise of overt racism and white supremacy under Trump. To paraphrase a black politician, even if Trump isn't a racist, the racists think he is one. This emboldens them to be more open. I work for the US Postal Service so I take Trump's attitude towards the USPS personally.

How does your background as a veteran influence your vote?

Trump's reported comments disparaging veterans and calling those who served in the military suckers and losers obviously didn't sit well with me. He also has shown that he doesn't understand the concept of selfless service or that the members of the executive branch, not just the armed forces, are not automatically personally loyal to him because he is president.

When I joined the Postal Service I took an oath not dissimilar to the my oath of enlistment into the Army to "support and defend the Constitution." It galls me that Trump doesn't understand that career military and civil servants might place what's good for the country ahead of what's good for Trump. There is a legitimate discussion to be had over the role of Nato in the current global environment but Trump's antagonistic attitude towards many of the other Nato nations prevents him from being the one to do that.

Tell us about your plan to vote.

I filled out and returned my mail-in ballot soon after I received it. My choices were unlikely to change before election day and having it done allows me to tune out the noise right before the election.

Rom served as a US Marine for seven years and now works in business development. After backing Trump in 2016, he is more enthusiastically supporting his re-election this year as a check on the "rampant liberalism" of Democrats.

Why does this election matter to you?

As an avid historian, a follower of current events since I was very young, and a veteran, I have become quite startled at the lurch towards the left by one of the two major political parties in our country. There was a time not long ago when the differences between the two parties were not that great. Both parties, Republican and Democrat, were aligned on the same goals, albeit, their methods for achieving those goals is what differentiated them.

However, there has never been such a great divergence in goals between the two parties, with one - Democrats - appearing to make a steep and staggering lurch towards the left and intent on altering the fundamental values that the United States was built upon, and which allowed it to become the world's leader and economic powerhouse. There's never been a time in our country's recent history when one major party has pushed so hard to turn the United States into a socialist-like country.

How does your background as a veteran influence your vote?

Service members are trained to put their lives on the line for their country. In order to be willing to die for your country, you have to believe in its core values. I believed in the core values of my country when I served for seven years in the US Marine Corps, just as I continue to believe in those core values today.

Notwithstanding his caustic and unconventional demeanour and personality, there are three primary reasons I support Mr Trump:

  1. He holds dear the values that have made this country great.
  2. He follows through on his campaign promises - unlike other politicians of the past, both Republican and Democrat, who made promises while campaigning but rarely followed through.
  3. Mr Trump has shaken the establishment class to its core - he's the Disruptor-in-Chief and I, as well as many others, believe disruption has been in order for a long time because the establishment class - Washington - has been out of touch with the general working-class population.

Tell us about your plan to vote.

I requested an absentee ballot, which I just completed prior to filling out this questionnaire, and I'm driving down to the post office to deliver it into the hands of a postal worker.

All voters featured here are members of our US election voter panel. You'll hear more from them, and many of our other voters, throughout the next two weeks.

Join the conversation: In five words, tell us what's at stake in this election.

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