Combat Fatigue

By: Michael Parrish

Combat fatigue.  War weariness. As a combat veteran I’ve heard it put a number of ways.  The growing inability to stay focused on conflict. Losing the desire to fight on.  Coming to the conclusion that to keep fighting for the win is less desirable than to throw down your arms and pursue peace instead.  In any long, drawn out conflict this condition will inevitably work it’s way into the hearts of some of the stoutest warriors.  

    I think that we’re beginning to see it with the ongoing conflict between the two major political parties and it’s growing.

    How did I come to this conclusion?  Recent events on the national level give clues.  Take a look at the Blue Team frontrunners. How are they the same?  More importantly.. how do they differ? It’s a widely held belief that during the last presidential election the DNC actively worked to sabotage Bernie Sanders.  The “big tent” philosophy will swell the ranks but, at the end of the day, you take big chances on having too many differing philosphies that will cause friction if the occupants of that tent have enough time to think about it.  That’s what we’re seeing now. Bernie and Ocasio-Cortez (I suppose you could include the entire “squad” but really the rest are riding her coattails) have radically different ideas of what government should be from the rest of Blue Team leadership and we’ve seen very public displays of the rift that has developed because of it.  In adding those two to the ranks with open arms the rest of the leadership apparently didn’t realize that what they were adding were candidates who loudly protest about the things that they embodied. Rich people. Old white people holding the reins. Cozying up to big corporations. Making money off of your elected positions. The congresspeople in their ranks with the most energetic support want to tear down everything that they’ve built their foundation on.

    Red Team?  No different.  A party that preaches fiscal responsibility but blows up budgets.  Also cozied up to big donors. Also making money off of their positions.  Their rift is a little less defined, but still obvious. They even coined the phrase RINO (Republican In Name Only) for some of their number to label those they’d rather not see in the party as outcasts.  McCain and Romney are probably two of the first names that come to mind there. One could make a reasonable argument that the recent success of Red Team is solely due to Donald Trump as most of them, and truly most of congress as a whole, is getting a reputation for being largely ineffective.  

    With all of the time, effort and money that each party has put towards painting the opposition as being the embodiment of evil they can’t keep their own numbers from turning their anger towards those who wave the same flag.  The campaigns run on anger and disgust are now seeing that same anger being turned inward. The enemy no longer seems so clear.

    They’re losing focus.

    We are also seeing much less interest in political goings on overall.  The impeachment was a great disappointment to many ratings wise. What was touted as a noble process to strike back at actions that were nothing less than heinous perpetrated by a man that would be described as the same failed to capture the attention of a population that very recently had been quite engaged in our political circus.  It could be argued that as far back as when W. stood up to terrorism following 9/11 that the country showed real interest in what’s going on up on the hill, but probably the most remarkable uptick in the collective attention was the rise of Barack Obama. Both of those events had widespread interest across the political spectrum. 9/11 caught us all in it’s web for obvious reasons.  Obama was able to energize many on the left in ways that had never happend before and caused the right to rebel for many reasons.. some credible, some imagined. But it caught EVERYONE’S attention. If we contrast that to today, we see that we have some very vocal outliers but that largely people have gone back to a bit of complacency. Those who stand firm against Trump aren’t interested enough to keep up with one of a very small number of impeachments in this country that could have possibly given them the ousting that they crave.  Those who support him feel comfortable with his chances of winning. His turnouts are massive at rallies but then that’s little different from most pop icons. The result is that overall interest in our political process is waning.

    They’re losing the desire to fight on.

    The signs of the combat fatigue are plain to see.  It’s hard to keep soldiers motivated once they realize that the fight is never ending.  Soldiers fight for goals. Causes. It may be country. It may be the soldier next to them.  It may be the idea of safeguarding others. But no matter the cause, it becomes impossible to fight on if it becomes obvious that the cause can never be realized.

    So, what do we do?  When soldiers can no longer be rallied to the cause the only reasonable answer is peace.  We have to get back to a place where we see the opposition as a differing voice as opposed to a dire threat.  The big voices in politics will never make this shift while they can still keep their seats so it’s up the WE THE PEOPLE to take responsibility for making a better future.  Really consider the candidate as opposed to the Team they campaign for. “Vote Blue No Matter Who” and “Vote Red Until I’m Dead” are guarantees of continued failure at all levels.  Consider what they’re offering. Do they have any new ideas? Are they just repackaging the same ideas that their party has pushed so many times before? Just the promise to beat the other team can’t be enough to secure votes if we want a truly civilized nation and truly good political solutions have no party.

    It’s time to heed our collective combat fatigue and pursue peace with out neighbors.

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