On Sunday, while I was writing down my ideas of heroism for Memorial Day, Donald Trump was the only presidential candidate invited to talk at the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day rally in Washington. Rolling Thunder is a group that pushes for a full accounting of prisoners of war and those missing in action. There is more than a little conspiracy theory in the group. You used to hear it all the time: that there were thousands of Vietnam veterans who were still being held captive in Vietnam. It’s also kind of a biker thing.
Rolling Thunder’s big annual event is this Memorial Day rally, where they ride their bikes on a parade of sorts that ends at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The fact that Trump would speak at this even is ironic, if not funny. Jonathan Chait described it, Most Anti-POW Candidate in History Embraced by Pro-POW Rally. This is, after all, the man who dismissed John McCain’s heroism because he was captured. You would think that Rolling Thunder would hate Trump. But no.
Instead, they hate Hillary Clinton. One of the group members said that asking Hillary Clinton to show up would be like asking Jane Fonda to show up. Reason? They don’t need no stinking reason! But I think I can explain. Conservatives of the military ilk don’t care about soldiers or veterans or pretty much anything else you might think. They care about war. They care about beating their chests and claiming that they are the alpha dog. So Donald Trump is just perfect for them. The fact that he did everything he could to stay out of the Vietnam War doesn’t mean anything.
Conservatives Hate War Heroes
It all reminds me of the 2004 election. That was a very important election for me because it was the one when I really got involved in politics. Up until then, it had been very theoretical. I wanted such drastic things changed in society that I didn’t even pay attention to what was going on in the world. But in 2004, I was very much a Democrat — thanks in large part to President George W Bush who was really awful. But what I most remember from that campaign was the utter disgust I had about the swift boat attacks against John Kerry.
I don’t have any great love of the military; it is an unfortunate necessity. But I respect the men and women who do the job, even if I’m not willing to call them all heroes. What surprised me was that conservatives thought even less than I did about the military. Disagree all you want with John Kerry, but at least grant him that he served in the Vietnam War and acted heroically on at least two occasions. But no. The conservatives were eager to crap all over that for political gain.
Rolling Thunder Doesn’t Care About Soldiers
Conservatives care about war, not soldiers. Memorial Day is supposed to be about remembering soldiers who died in our country’s wars. But it’s the wars that conservatives are celebrating. The soldiers only matter in that you can’t have a war without them. Rolling Thunder should be ashamed to invite Donald Trump to speak to them. And they would be ashamed if they cared about the soldiers. But they don’t. They’re just keen for another war where Rolling Thunder can pompously ride their bikes and pretend care about soldiers. All they care about is chest thumping — like conservatives everywhere.