So it’s treason then! For those that don’t know, the organization known as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is hosting a Commander in Chief Forum on September 7th featuring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Founded by CEO Paul Rieckhoff, the IAVA claims to be the fastest growing Veterans organization in America speaking on behalf of all who served. Now, for years there have been rumblings among the Veteran community that the IAVA is nothing but a liberal organization espousing the personal liberal views of its founder. Having followed both the IAVA and Paul Rieckhoff on social media, I can see where they are coming from, to be honest. However, I’ve never addressed the issue because up until now, I really didn’t care. But Paul has finally done it this time with his intentional exclusion of Gary Johnson from this forum and now I’m pissed and Veterans of every political leaning should be as well. Never mind that a recent poll showed that 38% of active duty members prefer Gary Johnson and let’s just ignore that Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan prefer Johnson over Hillary Clinton by a wide margin. The IAVA has now intentionally chosen not to represent you my fellow Veterans. Rather, it has invited Donald Trump into an ambush organized by its founder, Paul Rieckhoff. If you don’t know who Paul Rieckhoff is, just watch MSNBC long enough and you will see him. What follows below is simply my opinion and I encourage you to form your own.
The Politics of Non-Profits
Again, I spent over 13 years in non-profit management before writing and it has always bothered me a little bit that the IAVA has taken what seems like fairly partisan positions. Nothing overt, just uncomfortably partisan for a non-profit. It’s just not smart strategy. For in doing so, they have alienated a great deal of the Veteran community. We all care about public policy and we all care about lobbying Congress to get what is needed for our brothers. However, just as many of us would love to join arms with the IAVA and continue the charge, we look around to realize that we are really out of place here. I mean really out of place. I’m talking Forrest Gump at a Black Panther party, out of place.
I do not like Donald Trump and you all know that. But I’m a blog titled Unprecedented Mediocrity, not a non-profit claiming to speak on behalf of Veterans. The IAVA has come out pretty hard against Donald Trump and Paul Rieckhoff’s social media posts echo it. Despite not being a Trump supporter, it pisses me off a bit that such an organization would assault the candidate supported in fact by many Veterans utilizing the very same name of those veterans.
It reeks of personal politics to speak of the candidate over the policy. Meanwhile, if you peruse Paul Rieckhoff’s social media posts it wouldn’t take long to figure out for whom he plans to vote. Again, personally, I don’t care. Paul can do what he wants and for that matter, the IAVA can do what it wants. I’m not a member and never plan to be. But the IAVA has crossed the red line and I don’t mean like Obama’s red line. I’m talking getting in a schoolyard fight because you rolled up a folder, put it on your shoulder, dared the kid to knock it off, and he did. In the name of GWOT Veterans, the IAVA plans to ambush Donald Trump for the world to see and his exclusion of Gary Johnson makes that obvious.
Feeling the Johnson
The truth of the matter is that Gary Johnson is pulling votes from Hillary Clinton more than Donald Trump it would seem. Trump supporters are fiercely loyal and I respect that. However, Hillary Clinton not so much. So what motivation would the IAVA have for excluding one of the more popular candidates among active duty and Veterans? It almost seems like someone is trying to protect someone’s lead. Hmmm, I wonder who could that be. Let’s ask Church Lady.
No it’s not Satan, in my humble opinion it’s Paul Rieckhoff. For his personal politics gives credence to that fact and it sure seems like he has brought the IAVA along for the ride. Gary Johnson is fighting for a spot in the debates with the support of a large number of military supporters. Why in the world the IAVA wouldn’t give him an opportunity on behalf of the military to speak about the military is beyond me. For the first time, we could see all 3 candidates side by side and that in of itself would be a landmark event for Veteran’s issues. But no, that would ruin the ambush now wouldn’t it.
Exit the Kill Zone
If you are a Donald Trump supporter, you need to tell him to exit this event if Gary Johnson is not included because otherwise, it’s an obvious ambush. You know that feeling when you are patrolling a street and all of a sudden there are no hadji kids running around in front of you? Paul Rieckhoff on social media has been brutal to Donald Trump. So what makes us think this is going to be a fair forum when the person who should obviously be there is not? What’s the first priority in an ambush my fellow Veterans? That’s right, exit the kill zone.
Including Gary Johnson not only represents the wishes of the very people the IAVA claims to support, but it proves that the IAVA is about an open an honest conversation for us all. Otherwise, it’s time to walk away from the IAVA my fellow Veterans. Even if you are a liberal Hillary Clinton supporter, you should have nothing to do with a non-profit that uses the name you earned to support partisan politics. Gary has a very distinct view on the military and whether you support it or not, it deserves to be heard. A veteran organization stifling political discourse is discouraging to say the least.
Mr. Rieckhoff, Veterans are free thinking individuals as you know and we don’t need anyone putting political earmuffs on us all. What is the harm of adding a distinct voice that Veterans want to hear to a forum on Veterans issues by a Veteran organization? So my fellow Veterans, here is my call to action. Visit the IAVA page on their Facebook here and Twitter here, and tell them to #IAVAFeelTheJohnson Don’t be a troll and say harsh things, but voice your opinion. You can support Trump or Clinton, but you cannot support an organization that would use your name to stifle political dissent. You are the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the organization just stole your name. This is not about supporting Gary Johnson, for I care not if you do. It’s about telling once and for all this organization to stop abusing your name on their own personal behalf. Prove me wrong IAVA and Paul, I sincerely hope you do.
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