It seems there’s a new political party recently formed in the United States, the Veterans’ Party of America. I was browsing Facebook, and noticed that a friend had “liked” them. Seeing how my Facebook friend is pretty rock solid and sensible about what she likes and posts about, I had a look at their page. I was intrigued, enough so that I followed the link to their website, http://www.veteranspartyofamerica.org and read further. Interesting reading, I must say. Some of it’s good; well, actually, most of it’s good. I just can’t quite shake my feeling of doubt about their viability. Perhaps it’s because many years ago, after placing a great deal of faith in the Libertarian Party and being continually disappointed, I have a bit of trouble extending open, welcoming arms to a newly formed political party. Oh, and by the way, I do mean newly formed – they are exactly three months old today, having been founded December 19, 2013.
I read most of what’s written on their site, including their constitution and bylaws, but naturally that all dealt mostly with their infrastructure and how to conduct business at their meetings. What I paid particular attention to, though, was their party platform. I won’t go into every single section of the platform; rather, I’ll keep my comments to those particularly worthy of mention.
Section I of their platform, which reflects their views about the U.S. Constitution, is good for the most part, except that one of the major sticking points with me is when anyone refers to the Constitution as a living document, which they did. This, to me, is double-speak for something that’s easily manipulated and changed, possibly in undesirable ways. Perhaps they meant nothing out of the ordinary; after all, it has become a more or less common figure of speech, but only about our U.S. Constitution. I’ve never seen or heard the expression used in reference to any other document – ever.
Section II is about the separation between church and state, in which they rightly state that there is absolutely no reference in the Constitution containing those words. Indeed, the VPA provides the origin of the saying – a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in which he referred to “a wall of separation between church and state.” The VPA platform then goes on to rightly say their opinion is that no state-established church is acceptable, and no particular religion shall be placed above another. And, also rightly, in my opinion, they state that holding no religious beliefs at all is perfectly acceptable. Whatever your feelings about your own particular religion, this is, after all, the principle that America was founded upon.
Section V, is about national defense and security. I’m going to flatly say right now I agree with their stance on this wholeheartedly. If I may be so bold to include a quote from them: “The military forces of the United States of America belong to the United States of America and are not to be used for foreign entanglements that do not directly threaten our nation’s security. At no time will the needs of National Security violate the inalienable rights guaranteed in the Constitution.” This tells me two things right up front – our armed forces are to be used solely for our own defense when this country is threatened, and secondly, it’s not acceptable to restrict Americans’ rights and freedoms due to a threat to us, whether real or perceived. Thinking like that is exactly what we need.
Section VI is about immigration, or more specifically, the illegal immigration problem we have. It proposes a three-tiered plan for naturalization of those already living here, and I actually thought this to be quite reasonable. It also addresses those trying to come here illegally in the future. By all means, promote the comings and goings of all foreigners, but keep it under control and keep it legal.
Sections VIII and IX are about foreign policy and foreign aid, respectively. These were short but well stated paragraphs, and the bottom line is that our foreign policy should be to let other sovereign nations decide their own fate and manage their own affairs. As for foreign aid, by all means be willing to help other nations when it is in the interest of the United States to do so. Furthermore, they feel any aid given should be in the form of training, medical help, supplies and the like, but not money.
Section X on balancing the budget is a no-brainer, and I agree with it, but the problem I see is getting a Constitutional amendment passed, which is what they want to do. I’m not fond of amendments to our Constitution unless they’re well thought out and the pros and cons are fully debated, and years ago I would have said there doesn’t need to be an amendment to ensure a balanced budget. I’ve since changed my mind, because as I’ve come to realize, Congress isn’t going to do anything as difficult as balancing this out-of-control budget unless they’re forced to by law. But just how are they going to pass an amendment? A few Veterans’ Party members in the House or Senate just isn’t going to do any good, because you can bet your ass six ways from Sunday the Republicans and Democrats simply aren’t going to go for it.
Section XI, about earned benefits, is a little more troubling, to me at least. It states that before military retirement pay and benefits, social security, and a few others can be cut, there must be cuts to the entire federal budget, starting with Congressional pay. That’s fine, until you come to this sentence: “Any cut to entitlements or benefits must begin with cuts to congressional salaries and retirement benefits first, if only a token amount to serve as a gesture of solidarity to the people they serve and represent.” Hmm. Even if only a token amount? As a gesture of solidarity? Right.
Forgive me for skipping a few, but the same subject matter above brings us down to Section XV about Congressional pay and benefits. In this section, they want to turn it over to the states to pay the salaries, benefits, and retirement of members of Congress. That’s fine and I like the idea, but to my mind it directly contradicts what was said about cutting their pay when other pay cuts are being looked at. If it’s in the hands of the Congressmen’s respective states, it would be out of the hands of the Federal government. I’m not sure who wrote this platform, but they should probably do a careful rereading of it. If this idea were implemented, it may not work because the respective states won’t be obligated to cut their pay, or may cut it at other times for other reasons. And, it would effectively nullify Section XI. They need to rethink this a little more.
Frankly, I’m a bit dubious of the Veterans’ Party of America. I like much of their platform, but there are other parts of it that are enough of a problem that I’m not going to throw my support behind them. At least not right now. And as I mentioned, I’m not at all enthusiastic about supporting an entity that’s completely untested. I really want to like them, but the fact that they’ve acquired tens of thousands of supporters in three month’s time doesn’t impress me like it once would have. I’m just not optimistic about their chances at getting anyone elected to office when they come up against the big boys who’ve been there for a long time. Also, it’s a fact that in presidential elections a popular third party candidate so far has always gotten the Democrat elected due to pulling votes away from the Republicans. Or maybe it’s time to risk it again; I just don’t think a serious third-party presidential candidate will be anyone from the Veterans’ Party. But I’ll be watching them closely.