Tea Party Hijacks “Million Vets” Rally While Real Vets Continue to Suffer
There’s a strong possibility that we may be coming to the end of the government shutdown, as the impending threat that the debt ceiling will be reached is bringing both parties to the table to sort out a solution to governmental gridlock.
The likelihood of a resolution was less certain over the weekend, when a number of veterans marched on Washington, D.C., rallying to impeach the president and end the congressional assault on those who served our country. Oh, wait. No, not really. That was just the Tea Party protesters who stole their rally.
The Million Vet March on the Memorials claims that their intention was always just to draw attention to the way that the closures of war memorials across the country during the government shutdown were used as political ammunition. According to the group’s about page, they hoped at some point to introduce a congressional bill that would forbid memorials from being shut down if the rest of the government closes again. Saying they refuse to be “used as pawns,” they chose October 13th as a day to storm the D.C. WWI veterans memorial, which had become the center of a firestorm over the impact and necessity of action during the shutdown, as well as to ask allies to gather at memorials around the country to show their support.
The scandal over the closing of memorials has been mostly a shiny object dangled in front of the media to distract from the real impact the shutdown has had on real services in the country. GOP figure-heads spent days claiming they couldn’t understand why the memorials, normally without barriers, needed to be cut off to the public, intentionally ignoring the number of workers it takes to clean, maintained and guarded, all of which could not be done with non-essential employees furloughed.
The fight over the memorials was the one place the Republicans felt they could be on firm standing. It made for a simple talking point: If you don’t support the memorials being open, you hate our country and everyone who ever defended it. They carried signs demanding that President Obama be impeached. They demanded revolution. They even claimed to desire that people stop using veterans in their political games as they were in fact doing exactly that.
GOP presidential wannabees Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz both spoke at the event, but it was Tea Party activist, Larry Klaman of Freedom Watch, who went the furthest into the realm of hyper-partisanship. “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up,” said Klaman.
Meanwhile, the real veterans were much less amused by the antics of those who claimed to speak in their name. “The political agenda put forth by a local organizer in Washington DC [sic] yesterday was not in alignment with our message. We feel disheartened that some would seek to hijack the narrative for political gain. The core principle was and remains about all Americans honoring Veterans in a peaceful and apolitical manner. Our love for and our dedication to remains with Veterans, regardless of party affiliation or political leanings,” the real Veterans said in a Facebook post after the event, according to Huffington Post.
Considering that a bill had to be specifically passed to return “death benefits” to families of those killed in action since the shutdown began, that pension payments may soon be in doubt and that veteran medical clinics had to cut off overtime services, it’s little wonder that veterans wouldn’t be happy with a handful of Tea Party superstars trying to take over their event for their own anti-White House PR blitz.
If the GOP truly cared about vets, they would concentrate a little harder on getting the government open, not just the memorials.
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