Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul ruffled feathers last month when he invited a US Army reservist to appear on stage with him while in uniform, while on live TV.
From This Ain't Hell, a march on Washington by military members who support Paul is apparently being organized for Monday in Washington DC. This raises two specific problems. First, members of the active duty military, or Reserve and National Guard an active duty orders, are prohibited by regulation from marching in or riding on floats in a partisan political parade. Second, one of the organizers of the event, Adam Kokesh, has a troubled history of wearing his uniform during partisan political events (among other things) and is a virulent anti war protester.
On the first issue, Congressman Paul has already caused a kerfuffle in the military by not only allowing but encouraging a Reserve soldier in military uniform to not just attend a political rally, but to speak on stage while on live TV. While the soldier is likely facing judicial punishment, Congressman Paul bears some responsibility for the mess as well. As a sitting Congressman, former member of the military, and perennial presidential candidate, I can't reasonably see how he could claim to have not known it was wrong.
If members of the active duty military appear at the event on Monday in the nation's capital, there is a good chance that they will be identified by photo or video, and Congressman Paul's campaign will have another mess to explain. Reportedly, an email from within the Judge Advocate General (JAG) office of the Navy has warned active duty members of the consequences of participation in a partisan event.
On the second issue, Adam Kokesh is a former member of IVAW, Iraq Veterans Against the War, a group notable for two things-the lack of actual Iraq service by its members, and their history of cheap political stunts, to include burning the American flag. Michelle Malkin has weighed in on Kokesh, as has CBS news, as well as mil-bloggers Blackfive and This Ain't Hell.
The comments running through the Facebook site for the event are full of Paul supporters who opine that they are morally right to disregard military regulations because of the political situation in our country today. While that may or may not be correct, it is important to note that the United States is a republic, patterned in large part on the other great republic in world history; the Republic of Rome. One of the principal causes of the downfall of that republic was the ability of individual politicians to sway the military to be loyal to them as individuals, rather than to the republic as a whole.
The extremists within Congressman Paul's campaign are toeing the line between loyalty to an individual and to the Constitution, and every time a member of the military violates regulations and orders to show their support for Paul, they motivate others to do the same. It is entirely possible to serve in the military and support political candidates, but the professional ethic of our volunteer military demands that we do so according to a set of rules that assure the public that individuals support a candidate, not the military as a whole.
Serious Ron Paul supporters, the large majority who support him because of his principles rather than as a cult of personality, should reach out now and stop this movement before it embarrasses Congressman Paul and the military.