Political leanings at USMA- Conserservative? Liberal? Mix?

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by Texana, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. Texana

    Texana New Member

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    Hello, I'm new here.
    I'm sorry this is long, but I don't know where to get this information, and I'm really hoping someone here has information for me!!

    * BACKGROUND--
    My son is a high school sophomore and is seriously considering applying to USMA. We've read through the requirements, read a lot of websites (official and unofficial) and watched a lot of youtube videos, and I think we have a general idea of how it all works.

    I think my son has a good chance of admission-- he's strong and athletic, is outgoing and charismatic with many leadership experiences, and is very intelligent (last year, in 9th grade, he scored a 32 on the ACT with near perfect math and science subscores).

    My son loves his country and thinks he would make a good soldier and military leader. He knows he's smart and feels that it is his duty to use his intelligence to make his country (and the world in general) a better and safer place rather than just use his intelligence to make money in the corporate world. He loves creative problem solving and strategy and sees himself in a future career working in military intelligence or for the CIA, FBI, etc.

    But, in seriously considering West Point, he and I were wondering-- What is the political climate of the service academies?

    My son is scientifically minded, atheist, progressive, and liberal. He is very turned off by reflexive patriotism and nationalism.

    Here's an example to explain what I mean--

    With the recent Kaepernick media coverage, my son sided with those who supported Kaepernick. Conservatives tend to say that Kaepernick was anti-American and that by not standing for the national anthem he was disrespecting the soldiers who died to protect our country.

    My son disagreed. He believes that Kaepernick is being a good American because he bravely participated in the fundamental right of American citizens to peacefully demonstrate. My son believes that when someone sees a way in which America needs to improve (such as racial inequality), then that person has an obligation as an American citizen to bring attention to the area that needs improvement like Kaepernick did with his anthem protest.

    In my son's opinion, *that's* what makes a great American-- someone who is brave enough to fight to make necessary changes, *not* someone who reflexively says this country is great and that anyone who suggests a need for improvement is anti-American.

    Anyway, my son is pro-science, pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-gun control, and generally aligns himself with progressive liberal ideals. He is also pro-military, but here is the south, the only people that seem to be pro-military are conservatives with the opposite views as my son.

    So, would my son, as a liberal/progressive, intellectual/scientist type, have a place as USMA? Are West Point cadets/faculty mostly conservative or is it a mix?

    I appreciate any advice you might have!
     
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  2. Hopeful2021

    Hopeful2021 Member

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    Would he kill someone for his country
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    They're all a mix, but I'd say they're more conservative than many (but not all) colleges.

    I'm conservative. I had plenty of liberal classmates. They weren't in the majority but they weren't rare.
     
  4. Ted75

    Ted75 Banned

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    As your son is "very turned off by reflexive patriotism and nationalism," does this mean your son won't be saluting the flag at Reveille and Taps?
     
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  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I'm pretty sure reveille woke me up and taps put me to sleep.
     
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  6. Ted75

    Ted75 Banned

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    Reveille


    ...I meant to say "Retreat."

     
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  7. Dixieland

    Dixieland Member

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    :bang:
     
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  8. JWP

    JWP Member

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    Pretty diverse candidate pool to pull from. The feedback I have gotten from my 2018 and 2019 DS's is there seems to be a good mix of ideas when discussing political/controversial topics, multiple view points are discussed and critical thinking is valued over emotional arguments. I have zero personal knowledge - just going off what I am hearing from my son's. Other's who have a DS or DD may have heard differently.
     
  9. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    As an Officer in the military, its considered very unprofessional to broadcast your "opinion" about politics. Your boss is the President of the United States of America who has been elected by the citizens of this republic. Your "opinion" will reflect your character and could limit career aspirations. He will learn military ethics.

    Most parents of Cadets are moderate in my experience

    Push Hard, Press Forward
     
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  10. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    I'm a liberal atheist turned off by reflexive patriotism as well.
    I, and most officers, solve this by not talking politics at work.
     
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  11. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I'd say academy discussions can be very political (it is a learning environment) but I don't remember any political conversations in the wardroom (except when my CO said the earlier version of The Thing was better than Kurt Russell's.... Which he had never seen. He was wrong.)
     
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  12. JWP

    JWP Member

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    To tag on to Line in the Sand - in the enlisted ranks we spent very little time discussing politics/religion - no real time or stomach for it as well. Serious discussions were held over which town in Germany had the best beer or who's turn it was to fire up the grill for the weekend.

    It's not that we did not have opinions - it's just the life of a soldier is very different than the life of a civilian and so are the expectations about how, where and when one chooses to express their beliefs and on the job aint ( I am originally from the South) it! :)
     
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  13. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

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    Also, whatever political beliefs a cadet holds will be challenged in the classroom as it is important to understand and appreciate more than one point of view. This past weekend, our son told us that he was chosen to represent a particular side to a current issue in one of his classes last week. When he finished (with passion and without faltering), the instructor said he was disappointed because he had chosen our son for this exercise being confident that he personally held the opposite view and the instructor wanted to challenge him. Our son said, "Oh no, sir, I'm fully in the other camp; I was just channeling my dad." We all cracked up at that. Political discussions are the meat of conversation in our house with three often wildly disparate views. It would be a sad state if everyone thought alike. Our son is a bit of a political junkie and reports that though the corps seems to lean conservative, many views are represented and allow for lively, but respectful debate. There's room for all. However, outside the classroom, I would heed tug's words:

     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
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  14. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    I second all the former active duty folks who have already offered commentary. Military personnel are apolitical most of the time - they are pragmatic and respond favorably to increases in pay, benefits, etc and negatively when things are taken away regardless of political philosophy. Most, if not all, avoid discussing politics at work.

    The OP's question was on West Point and I can't offer any perspective. But, generally you find the entire range of the political spectrum within an academic environment and the viewpoints tend to evolve/ mature over their time on campus. Being exposed to different viewpoints helps one discern and strengthen their own positions.
     
  15. MMA19kid

    MMA19kid Member

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    After interacting with kids from USNA, USCGA, and my school. I'd say most are nationalistic/patriotic reflexively, maybe if just by wearing the uniform. I was hardly patriotic in the past, but it's really an honor to wear the uniform.
     
  16. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Texana: I am also an unapologetic leftie with a deep and wide pragmatic streak, a non-theist, and a scientist (I teach biology at a college). I never, ever felt threatened or separate or terribly different than my classmates when I was at USNA. MOST leadership personnel WANT a diverse officer corps - diverse in the same ways we are out here in this country, too: politically, racially, by background and place of origin, religiously (or not) and so on. USNA has an active atheist/humanist student group and I would be shocked if USMA didn't as well. Your son already knows he'll have to have a thick skin no matter where he goes, but his contribution would be welcomed.
     
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  17. Texana

    Texana New Member

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    This is all great information. I appreciate your taking the time to answer a newbie's question!

    We live in a small, conservative town in the Bible Belt, so my son is certainly used to discretion and getting along with a wide variety of people. He doesn't expect to be in the majority, but he doesn't want to walk into a hornet's nest either.

    His teachers and counselors are encouraging him to shoot for Ivy League. But, he feels a strong pull (a calling of sorts) to apply his mathematic/strategic talents to matters of national security. There are certainly non-military routes to pursue this type of career, but he loves a good physical challenge and pushing himself to his limits, and he thinks becoming a soldier would be a good step. He could go ROTC, but he's a "go big or go home" kind of guy, so in his mind if he's going to join the army then he should aim for West Point.

    I appreciate the insight you've shared. :)
     
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  18. oldcorpsdad

    oldcorpsdad Member

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    My son was the quintessential liberal/progressive, intellectual/scientist type. Still trying to figure out where i went wrong- just kidding - sort of.... its from his mother. Anyways, he fit in just fine at WP with everyone else. He did have one roommate that was so far to the right that they had constant friendly arguments and they are still friends. There are many who say that the Army is stongly conservative, I think, not as much as many assume. Now if he ever thinks about taking a knee during the National Anthem for what ever reason, he personanally will probably have a very short career.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  19. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Agree with everything said for the most part. Can't speak to USMA, but guessing it's close to USNA. USNA was much more diverse than most expect with a slight lean right. I had friends who fell across the entire political spectrum. Many parts of your statement describing son definitely fit me and I never felt out of place. Mids are challenged on their arguments continually in the classroom and that helps to make discussions like kneeling at the national anthem an interesting debate topic. I had a history prof who made us vote on day 1 of we thought the civil war was about state's rights or slavery. We then wrote a paper supporting the other side. The last week, we repeated this assignment with a final decision paper following after. It's about developing critical thinking skills and listening. He would be fine at USMA.
     
  20. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    I think the questions are stupid. USMA will be what your son make of if. If he is not going to stand up for his beliefs, he might not be as good as you think he is. If you think cadets/faculty at USMA will discriminate against a cadet with different value, USMA is just another college, nothing special.

    Although USMA might appear homogenous to casual observers, it is very diverse (except for one, all my roommates were white. But if you looked at their backgrounds, very little similarities other than being high achievers in certain areas)
     

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