If I disagree with the president

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by snbypo, Jul 10, 2018.

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  1. snbypo

    snbypo New Member

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    I am applying to all service academies but posting here since WP is my #1 choice. I think the title bout sums it up. I disagree with all of Trump, his policies, his antics, his administration, his actions, his blatant racism, you name it. My attitude toward wanting to serve is that I want to be part of directing this country toward a better future, because I love this country as much as anyone else. But I hate the current administration. I personally don't htink this is going to be a problem for me service-wise, but wondering if others have advice/words to offer.

    I'm not trying to start a political debate. I'm just a high school kid who loves the USA but hates the way it's going right now and I'd like to hear any thoughts about serving under a CIC who you disagree with on basically every level.
     
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  2. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012 5-Year Member

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    I've served under Presidents Bush (briefly at USNA), Obama, and now Trump, a fact that makes me feel hopelessly old. While serving, there have been things I've agreed with the current CIC about and things I have definitely NOT agreed with. Contrary to popular belief, you will serve with people whose opinions range pretty far across the political spectrum. There's a largely unspoken "gentleman's agreement" that political discussions are not really done in professional settings, and trying to impose your views on other servicemembers is heavily frowned upon.
    Something to keep in mind is that your oath is not to the President, it is to the Constitution. Your contract to the country and to the Constitution will last as long as you serve. The Presidency is temporary. Obviously, you can be sent to do things as directed by the President (via the military chain of command) you may not necessarily agree with, and unless something is actually illegal, you have to go. If you're comfortable with that, then you're okay. You can disagree with policy on your own time, but when you're on the clock you have to do the job. It may not be in the place you want to be, or doing the thing you want to do.
    Also, keep in mind as a JO, your influence on national policy is zero (unless you commit a war crime or something, and then it's, uh, just negative). You'll be a pawn in this game for a pretty long time.

    Bottom Line: Part of being a good citizen is thinking critically about your leadership at all levels and voting to effect change where you think it's needed. Being in the military doesn't mean you're a mindless robot. But you should not cover your car in "NOT MY PRESIDENT" stickers or whatever either.
     
  3. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    Great post by Hurricane12. As a commissioned officer, you swear to uphold and defend the Constitution. Embedded in the Constitution is the unquestioned edict that you serve the Commander in Chief. Like the President or not, he (and someday she) is your boss.

    As noted by Hurricane12, military personnel span the entire political spectrum. (Heck, West Point recently graduated an avowed communist.) So imagine the chaos and confusion that would occur if each officer and enlisted person acted on their own political beliefs. That notion — whether in battle or not — is terrifying. The chain of command serves the express purpose of protecting our nation and keeping our armed forces safe — from the enemy and certainly from each other.

    At I-Day, the USNA Superintendent preceded the oath of office by reminding the Mids-to-be that they were about to swear allegiance not to a person but to a concept — that concept being the Constitution that forms the basis for our great country. Every future officer should contemplate this carefully before committing.
     
  4. MidwestDad

    MidwestDad Member

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    If you retired today with 25 years of service you would have served under Trump, Obama, G.W. Bush, and Clinton but would have applied and gone to R day while G .H. Bush was in office.

    Pretty sure most would have some reservations about at least one on that list regardless of personal beliefs.

    So don't let today's POTUS/CIC sway your decision. You serve the office, not the man.
     
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  5. Devil Doc

    Devil Doc Teufel Doc

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    I came in under President Carter with whom I share as a great grandfather, Palmy Uriah Helms.

    Then came Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush when I retired.

    When it came time to single up all lines or get on the next plane headed out of town, I don't remember one person voicing concern over the president's political ideologies.
     
  6. JWP

    JWP 5-Year Member

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    This is a GREAT question!

    First (and not to get political - this goes for everyone) if you find fault in EVERYTHING a particular president/politician is doing - and I don't mean this as an insult - work on your critical thinking skills. I served under several presidents some I voted for and for some I didn't. However I was always able to find areas in which I agreed. Same goes with the current POTUS.

    I say work on your critical thinking skills because at USMA you will be challenged to think differently about issues. You will be asked to write papers on views opposite to yours and it is a great exercise and valuable exercise. Can you set emotion aside and dig objectively into the facts and at least - see and understand a different perspective.

    One of my 2018 and 2019's personal mentors has political beliefs wildly different than my son's but they cherish her feedback, insight and opinions. It is one of their most valued relationships at USMA.

    My 2019 had members of Angela Merkel's staff come in to discuss immigration with opposition members of the German government and also in that group was a Congressman from Arizona. Needless to say - these groups had very different opinions but had a civil debate on immigration and this made for an extremely rich learning opportunity.

    Point being - once you raise your hand while you can absolutely have your personal thoughts and beliefs - your Commander in Chief is the POTUS and you have to be able to reconcile that if you are to be successful. Some cannot and that is ok - life of service in the military is not for everyone so it is better to know up front!
     
  7. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    The threshold question is whether you can look beyond your beliefs and effectively lead men and women who may have different beliefs than you. You are certainly entitled to your own political views, many of us have served to preserve that right, but when your beliefs interfere with your ability to lead, there will be consequences. As Hurricane noted, best to keep politics out of the wardroom (or whatever its called in the Army), and by all means, away from your troops. As a Junior Officer, its generally best to keep your political beliefs to yourself, and concentrate on your job.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
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  8. MidwestDad

    MidwestDad Member

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    Just in case you don't feel like you can keep it to yourself:

    Contempt towards officials is addressed in the Punitive articles, specifically Article 88 of the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice in the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), United States (2008 Edition) as follows:

    “ Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
     
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  9. New@This

    New@This Member

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    I understand and appreciate your patriotism. However, the military oath that is taken is to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". If your burning desire is toward moving or changing the direction of the country you may find you have a difficult time doing that in the military. You might be better served seeking a future career in political service or some field that more aligns with your stated goal. I'm not trying to talk you out of anything but you need to understand the "why" of your military career.
     
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  10. jl123

    jl123 Member

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    Someone who disagrees with all of a President's policies and hates the administration, may be falling into the trap of getting information from the rhetoric of single source media.

    In today's society it is not possible to form an objective opinion without gathering information from multiple uncorrelated sources. Observe those that only listen to FOX/Rush Limbaugh, etc and those that only listen to MSNBC/CNN, etc and you will see a common characteristic - they become close minded, highly emotional, and view those they disagree with as evil.

    One of the most valuable lessons USMA teaches is that if you can't articulate the opposition's argument clearly, you have not thought enough about the issue to formulate your own argument. That is why USMA and the Army consist of people across a broad spectrum of political philosophies, most of whom respect the people with whom they disagree.
     
  11. JWP

    JWP 5-Year Member

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    While serving one of my duties was as a BN EO/EEO liaison and more than a few legitimate complaints brought were from soldiers who were reporting Sr Enlisted and Officers who just could not stop talking politics or religion to or around their troops. A definite no go as lower enlisted definitely are not put in the best position in those conversations.
     
  12. snbypo

    snbypo New Member

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    Thanks for your input. This is also not meant to be political, but I do believe that at a certain point it can become possible to disagree with basically all of him BECAUSE I am able to think critically about certain issues, and (not stated in original post) BECAUSE I have had endless discussions with people who disagree with me, which allows me to “see both sides” and consider them. But that is neither here nor there. I genuinely appreciate your thoughts - that’s really all I was looking for anyway by posting this. Thank you.


    Edited: I read the replies in order and responded to JWP before looking at the rest. So I wanted to edit this just to say thank you to all of you for your responses, and for keeping it civil. I appreciate it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  13. shock-n-awe

    shock-n-awe Member

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    Thank you for being engaged in politics, being a critical thinker, wanting to make positive change to our country, and desiring to serve in the military.
    For those of us who have served under multiple Presidents, and possibly not agreeing with their policies or agendas on many occasions, we serve(d) without wearing any political stripes on our sleeves. We serve(d) our country first by following the lawful orders of those above us period. As mentioned by others, outspoken political distaste for the current administration (or your chain of command) will not play well for those choosing to do so in the military.
    We defend freedom of speech more than we exercise it.
    I might add that your perspective will likely change once you are out of high school and get some Big world experiences under you belt.
    Political office may be a better path for you if your views and beliefs are already that hardened.
     
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  14. jebdad

    jebdad Member

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    I agree with shock-n-awe that your perspective may change in the future particularly if you do enter the military. I think it would be pretty hard to disagree with everything under the current administration. When you say something like that, it gives me pause that you do not have the flexibility or the open mind needed to be an officer. I am pretty sure that military spending has increased under the current administration and I would imagine that would be something you could embrace.
     
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  15. JWP

    JWP 5-Year Member

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    Now all I will add while I was young I thought I was open minded and very set in my beliefs. We all have the right to be in that mindset when we are youthful as it is a right of passage of sorts.

    If the OP is confident - then fantastic! And I don't mean this as a slight to the OP at all. Just - we were all there at one point in our lives and for me - the older I get the more I am convinced I don't know anything and have so much more to learn! :) Peace to all and best of luck to the OP.
     
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  16. bopper

    bopper Member

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    Also you can decide that if you think Trump would make ill-informed decisions and not listen to Generals with experience that you will wait until he is out of office until you apply.
     
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  17. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    All this brings to mind the 1990s submarine movie “Crimson Tide,” where the XO (Denzel Washington) tries to convince the captain (Gene Hackman) that the officers should discuss whether to obey an ambiguous order to fire their nuclear missiles.

    Disagreeing, the captain says to the XO: “We’re here to defend democracy, not practice it.” Crass as the thought might be, he’s right.
     
  18. poelkers

    poelkers Banned

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    That you're asking the question I'd say you should not serve in the military at any level until you're a bit more mature.

    You might have to serve Presidents as dim as Obamma, as wishy washy as Carter or corrupt as Clinton or God forbid as bug nuts as Sander or Biden
     
  19. Wishful

    Wishful "Land of the free, because of the brave..." 5-Year Member

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    For someone who keeps posting that you don't mean to be political, I think you protest too much. Is there anything you're trying to mean? Your OP said you wouldn't have a problem serving under President Trump (BTW that's his title, it's President, not just Trump) as your CIC so we know that's not your issue. Are you just soliciting opinions?
     
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  20. Humey

    Humey Member

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    To make it simple, you are going to have to follow the lawful commands of President Trump or any other person who is president. It isnt relevent if you disagree, agree or even consider it immoral , amoral or illegal (unless the courts have determined it is illegal) . They used to say that in polite company you dont talk about politics, money and religion and while I wouldnt say you cant have discussions with your fellow soldiers about politcs and such, realize that your view isnt shared by everyone. What you consider to be racist acts by the President may not be considerd racist by other people. If anything you are calling them racist if they happen to agree with the Presidents views.
     
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