Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Whom Should A Veteran Vote?

There are some depressingly common beliefs that are rooted in the odd behavior of Americans consistently voting against their own interests.

Obama can't get elected because the Democratic Party's base, the so-called "working class" is actually the stronghold of racism in America and they would never vote for a 'nigger.' As pro-Clinton pundits said: Obama could never win the votes of "working, hard-working, white Americans." So, these stoopit white racists will vote for the Republican candidate who will work aggressively against the best interests of all working-class people.

Veterans are a different can of worms. Vets like to vote for vets, and McCain is a veteran's political wet-dream: a former POW from America's ugliest military campaign who survived brutality to become a leader in the perfect Hollywood sense of the word. Vets believe that a veteran would look after their interests; just like working-class (white working-class) people believed that Bill Clinton, a man from a strong working-class home and a single-parent family, would look after their interests.

Clinton, of course, did for Reaganomics and "conservatism" what the GOP hadn't the balls to do themselves: deregulate industry like mad and eliminate the social welfare safety net. Republicans and their allegedly "conservative" agenda was furthered more effectively by Clinton than his two predecessors.

Come now, John McCain: veteran extraordinaire and new champion of "conservatism."

I think it is safe to say that every veteran, Democrat and Republican alike, will vote for McCain. They believe he represents what is important to them.

McCain's voting record on veterans affairs, however, contradicts this.

The Veterans Administration is the finest, most effective, most successful medical system in the United States. There is no other medical system that succeeds like the VA. Part of the VA's success has been due to transparency and the almost complete elimination of favoritism, nepotism, and corruption. That transparency has been possible and successful because of an open-source information system called VistA. The nice thing about open-source information systems is that they are, well, open. There is no proprietary interest to protect, no trade secrets that have to be hidden from public view (which secrets always lead to problems of corruption or ineffectiveness).

McCain is working actively to eliminate the use of the VistA system and turn-over all VA information systems to private industry using proprietary systems. These private companies are required to generate profits for their shareholders, and when they cease to make profits, they close shop, and then veterans lose access to health care and their benefits stall or are lost altogether. Such was the case in Wisconsin last Summer when a private firm Corporate Health & Wellness, went belly-up and stranded all their clients.

The Republicans, in general, and McCain, in particular, have been trying to privatize the VA since Bush II took office. McCain has voted against veterans interest in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, and I am sure he is working to keep any votes about veterans benefits off the list during the election.

Veterans need to look very carefully at McCain's voting record as a Senator and his opinion on veterans benefits.

Forget about the hard-on he gives you when he talks about attacking Iran and staying in Iraq for a hundred years, and consider what he wants to do to veterans today, tomorrow, next month, next year, and in our lifetimes. He wants veterans benefits to be a source of profiteering for private companies, not a source of help for veterans.

For whom should a veteran vote? Not the veteran who is running for President!

Read the very excellent commentary McCain Sells Out Vets, by Brian Beutler, at The Nation site.

Read about Vista at wikipedia, it's a fascinating system.

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