Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and his first two years in office, Donald Trump has presented himself as an ardent supporter of the military. But while he talks a good talk, often describing himself as great for the military, his actions and policies leave much to be desired.
Trump has, to be fair, overseen drastic increases in military spending. But these expenditures often aren’t helping the average person serving in the military, or our veterans. For instance, the 61 billion-dollar increase was spent primarily on new ships, planes and helicopters. These items are exorbitantly expensive, and while some experts say they are necessary for military preparedness many others claim they are a great waste.
Included in this spending package was a 2.4 percent increase in pay. But this increase has been the focus of one of Trump’s favorite lies over the past year. Trump has repeatedly claimed that this increase was the first one the military received in 10 years. This, like so many of his statements, was false. Military pay has increased every year for the last three decades. Trump also claimed that the pay raise was 10 percent, more than four times greater than the actual amount.
But Trump didn’t just say these things in a tweet from the White House. He lied about this pay raise right to the faces of troops he visited in December. In my opinion, this is perhaps the most disrespectful thing a president has done to the military in modern times. Furthermore, the double standard between Obama and Trump in the eyes of conservatives is abundantly evident on this matter. Obama’s name was dragged through the mud for saluting military members with a coffee in his hand. But Trump lies directly to servicemembers and all we hear is deafening silence from conservatives.
While this may be Trump’s most egregious action against the military, it is far from his only one. Under his leadership, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has moved increasingly toward privatization. As more patients have been sent to private care, numerous issues have cropped up. Analyses by ProPublica and PolitiFact have shown that veterans are undergoing longer waits for appointments at private care facilities. In fact the average waits times were longer than those allowed by law. As it turns out, these changes have also led to increased costs for taxpayers. Despite these demonstrated drawbacks, Trump has continued to push for privatization.
Then, of course, there was the time Trump used the military to drum up support among his base prior to the 2018 midterm elections. By stoking fears of a migrant caravan that was at the time nowhere near the southern border, and then sending thousands of troops to “stop” it, Trump helped galvanize his base to vote. He did so by blatantly abusing his responsibility as Commander-in-Chief and using the military as a tool to further his own gains and those of his party. The fact that he tore mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters away from their families for political posturing is sickening.
As the Commander-in-Chief and leader of the country a president should treat those in the military with respect. Trump has never shown this respect. Even when he was a candidate, he openly feuded with and mocked the parents of a soldier killed in Iraq. It’s not enough for someone to say that they are strong supporters of the military. Actions speak louder than words, and Trump’s actions indicate that he cares for no one but himself. From lying about pay raises to sending troops to the southern border, all of his actions are in some way orchestrated to better himself. Americans and our military deserve better. The fact that Republicans, who are purportedly the party that most strongly supports the military, continue to back Trump is the height of irony.
Jacob Kowalski is opinion editor for The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.