I’ve been watching a new show called The Last Ship where an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer boasts the last effective force to fight and cure a global epidemic that killed off the majority of the Earth’s population. When USS Nathan James comes under attack, alarms blare and the officer of the deck barks out instructions to the crew on the 1MC.
Sitting at my desk working on my main monitor while the show plays in my peripheral vision on a second screen, a surge of adrenaline floods my body every time. My brain starts supplying damage control procedures I last used almost twenty years ago aboard USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf. The training is as autonomic as breathing after years out of uniform.
Unlike a battle scenario, America doesn’t have a 1MC and alarm bells to let us know that all hands are needed on deck. The ship has taken multiple hits along the starboard bow and dozens of compartments are flooding, yet for some reason the crew keeps lounging in their berthing watching Everybody Loves Raymond on CCTV and snacking on Lunchables.
As dire as things are in every corner, a simple fix exists within the monstrous system churning toward Bethlehem. The entire United States House of Representatives and a third of the Senate is up for reelection every two years.
In 2016, an average of 30% of American voters will show up for the primary election to register their disapproval. The primaries in 2018 will be lucky to reach half that number. This gives incumbents an out-sized sense of invulnerability, a fantasy that was shattered in two succeeding midterm primaries by Tea Party zealots who drove the country hard right.
The same flaw in the system can be exploited by those who would see our country transform into the 21st century powerhouse it is still poised to become. I propose 435 veterans of our nation’s wars Roger Up in their districts, red or blue, to hoist an incumbent by their worn petard. Pick a party and find a touchstone that advocates progress over decline.
In the 246 red districts, Eisenhower was the last progressive republican who can describe a vision many disaffected conservatives might be willing to take on board. Reagan’s promises have proved hollow and most on the right have born the brunt of that pain despite their unwitting support of the very party that made their lives more miserable. Tell them a new story. Teddy’s take was pretty compelling. Abe was no slacker either.
The 188 democratic districts that remain are vulnerable to a challenger from the left. Should Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton and then go on to destroy the republican nominee, the democratic caucus will be ripe for a renaissance of progressive idealism. Reach back to Carter and LBJ and FDR to find whatever identity makes the most sense for your district. Even Obama would have been much more liberal given half a chance.
The reason I think veterans are the perfect patsies for this effort is they know what it means to serve and sacrifice for our shared experiment. They understand the necessity of tearing down our Empire to rebuild another Republic in its place. They know all too well what happens when we stray too far from the letter of our founding documents.
Precedent and case law be damned.
All hands man your battle stations!