What Makes Veterans Special

051207-N-3019M-010Having a father and brother in the military leaves a special place in my heart for veterans. I am glad to live in a country with so much respect for people who give away so much of their lives for the defense of the nation. The military is a symbol of America’s strength and commitment to excellence – without a strong military, we fail to project our power in the world.

But extreme military power must also be coupled with extreme wisdom. What makes our servicemen so special is the fact they must surrender their autonomy to the federal government, and by proxy, to the American people. Our decisions directly affect their lives in a profound way. Irresponsible policy decisions will lead to death and suffering for our soldiers and the countless people who love and support them. It is the responsibility of the military to defend the nation, but it is the responsibility of every citizen to maintain a keen awareness of the policymakers who influence what is done with the military.

This fact is apparent to me as I reflect on the many years of my childhood my father missed during his career. The Iraq war made him absent from those precious years of my life, and as we all know, time is an irrecoverable resource. To know that the Iraq War, the central conflict responsible for his absence, was based on lies told by elected officials is deeply disturbing to me. I was lucky enough that my dad got to come home safely. Many other families were not as fortunate.

Now, with my beloved brother serving in the US Air Force, I am ever-conscious of the decisions I am making as a voting citizen. Whomever I vote for to govern this country has a direct influence on whether or not he is in harm’s way. We are both empowered and bound by each other’s influence – him for defense of our nation, and me for ensuring the government utilizes him effectively and responsibly.

Keep this in mind on this Veterans Day, and be sure to thank all of our great servicemen and women who sacrifice so much for our great country.

I Will Miss The Election

As someone who loves politics and has always kept a very close eye on election cycles, I must say 2016 has been one of the best case studies in the subject of politics, if not the best. This election cycle has also been a good lesson in investing, mass psychology, parallel messaging, and unorthodox campaign strategy. That I have been able to experience this wild ride at the infancy of my career has been a privilege for me.

Though many Americans are suffering severe cases of election fatigue, I have loved every day of this cycle. New developments happen by the hour, and conventional political wisdom has been upended more times than anyone can count. There is so much to learn from this cycle, and it is important recognize the abundance of knowledge to be gained from this year. No one truly knows the outcome of tomorrow’s election, but I believe it will be a net positive for the country either way. I try to maintain an irrationally optimistic view of the future, for better or worse.

The frustration, anger, sadness, joy, enthusiasm, and love for this country will blossom into something good. No matter the outcome, we have all been given the opportunity to reflect on the issues this country faces and how we want to deal with them. My hope is instead of running back into various media echo chambers, we learn how to have productive dialogue again as a country.

As difficult as it is, even for myself, we have to be willing to openly talk about the leadership of our country. We have to be able to peacefully discuss the tough issues and consider our opposition’s arguments in their best form. Before we can move forward as a nation, we have to be willing to see the good in one another, and that is quite possibly the most difficult thing. If we do not, our problems will persist far beyond the 2016 election.

Though many may not express the same sentiment, I will miss the 2016 election. I enjoyed the ever-changing political landscape, the overwhelming onslaught of political memes, and the sheer volume of news articles and opinions brought forth about the candidates and their positions. As a politics junkie, there has been no greater fix.

I encourage everyone to go out and vote tomorrow in what may be the most historic election of our lives. Keep a good attitude, do not be intimidated, and vote for the candidate who most represents your views.