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Featured Opinion

Why do cops and soldiers keep voting against themselves?

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Of course, Donald Trump told the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for” and referred to him only as “your guy.”

It doesn’t matter where you stand politically. If you have possessed the ability to hear over the last year, whether you’d like to admit it or not, you know Trump said this. It sounds like him – cold, bumbling, odd and indifferent.

You know he said it. And the White House knows too, which is why a flat denial early in the day moved to a claim that the Congresswoman who first spoke of it was “politicizing” the call.

And that response, too, is vintage Trump. No other president in American history, upon learning that the widow and mother of a fallen soldier felt insulted by the president’s words during a private call would have dreamed of doing anything other than apologizing and making it right.

Pick a past president. Anyone you like. That guy would have got in touch with the widow and made sure that she knew the president who sent her son to war or kept him there was thankful for his service and genuinely mourning his death.

But not Cheetolini.

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Nope. America elected an overgrown child and that’s exactly what we get every single day.

That’s not breaking news, I know, but this incident – this deplorable disregard for a soldier’s sacrifice – brings me to a larger point.

Why are soldiers and cops so solidly Republican?

People love to criticize poor southerners for voting against their own interests, but I don’t think any groups do so more obviously than cops and soldiers.

It makes zero sense.

George W. Bush sent troops into a stupid and poorly planned war in Iraq, costing thousands of American lives and simultaneously creating ISIS and re-opening the door to al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which prolonged that war. Bush and the GOP congress underfunded the VA, leading to awful care, cut soldiers’ benefits and pay several times and had seemingly no plan to care for soldiers once they returned from these wars.

Then along comes President Obama. He gets the overwhelming majority of our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, saving thousands of lives, starts the revamp of the VA, begins programs – against the wishes of Republicans in Congress – that cut into the veteran suicide rate and starts another program that has cut veteran unemployment by nearly 70 percent.

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Last November, active military voted 3-to-1 for Trump.

The guy who never served a day, taking five deferments for a bone spur, and who said that John McCain was only a hero because he was captured in Vietnam and that he liked guys who weren’t captured.

The guy insulting soldiers’ widows and spitting in the faces of Gold Star families.

I don’t get it.

And cops are even more befuddling.

Just the other day at an event in Montgomery, where Gov. Kay Ivey was speaking, there was a shiny new state trooper SUV serving as a backdrop. Off to the side, several Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) officials were joking about having to make a special call to someone to bring in a newer vehicle. Most of the others, they said, had 200,000 miles, poor tires and would have “run everybody out of here with all the smoke.”

If you’re a trooper in Alabama, you know this is true and that you’ve been complaining about the poor vehicles and equipment for years.

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Who runs this state? Republicans.

And since they took control in 2010, the troopers’ numbers have declined dramatically, their pay and benefits have decreased and they spend their time riding in and using old and bad equipment.

And here’s the thing: Without the progressives in the state Legislature, it would be worse.

Over the years, Democrats in Alabama have fought to protect law enforcement unions at every level, fought efforts to cut benefits, pushed for pay increases, tried to block dangerous rollbacks of gun laws and protected retirement benefits from a nearly constant threat.

Yes, the cop-hating liberals out there have made your jobs safer, your pay better and your retirement more comfortable.

And in return, cops voted Republican at a nearly 70 percent clip in 2016.

It’s insane.

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And I say that understanding full well that the GOP has been masterful in playing on cops’ and soldiers’ emotions. But at a point, the emotional aspects of a few incidents should be outweighed by the daily dangers and insecurity.

And as we watch the lunatic in the White House drive us closer to war and enflame racial tensions to 1960s’ levels, maybe you should think about those votes. It might save your life.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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