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Choice is a powerful weapon
Notes from an almost-military wife
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Every four years, when presidential election time rolls around, the media and the candidates pull out all the stops to convince us that this year's election is going to be the Big One - the election that will finally lead our country down the path to change. This year's election, they say, will be the most life-altering election in American history, perhaps even in the history of all elections. And for once, they may be right.
As I watched the second presidential debate last Tuesday night, I was struck by the realization that the issues John McCain and Barack Obama debated actually have a direct impact on me. It was an odd experience. Even though I'm an avid news junkie, Capitol Hill usually seems a lot more remote, somehow removed from my quiet Georgia existence. But this time it was different. This wasn't just some dry policy debate between Washington insiders on perennial topics like healthcare reform or Social Security. The issues McCain and Obama discussed - from the bleak economic outlook to rising gas prices to Iraq - are ones that directly will affect our lives for the next four years, and our new president will be the key player in shaping these issues.
Capitol Hill has managed to jump out of the TV screen, and it's landed smack dab in our pocketbooks and on our dinner tables. The families of our military men and women understand this phenomenon better than most. Because even though the president cannot exercise direct control over our economy and job market, he does have direct control over our military.
It will be our next president, not voters or even generals, who determines where in the world our soldiers will be sent. That's why the question that we, as military families, spouses and supporters, need to ask ourselves this election season isn't, "What else is on?" It's "Which candidate will do the most to benefit our servicemen and women and their families?"
The single most important way that you can answer this question is by staying informed. And with 24-hour news available on TV and online, there's almost no excuse not to. Web sites for The New York Times, CNN and other organizations, such as, provide pages clearly outlining the candidates' stances on major issues. Take a couple minutes to visit them and consider. Do you favor the approach of McCain or Obama on the war in Iraq? Should we continue sending more troops there, or should we withdraw? If we withdraw, how soon should we leave? Should we continue our presence in Afghanistan? And what about the strain that repeated deployments places on not only our country's budget, but also on our soldiers and their families at home?
Find out what the candidates have to say about each of these questions, and then decide for yourself whose plan is best. No matter what your opinion, your vote can make a difference in the lives of service members and their families. Our soldiers overseas may be fighting with sophisticated weapons and machinery, but we've got another weapon right here at home — informed voters. And that weapon is infinitely more powerful.
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