Vice President Harris has been widely criticized for her assessment that “our democracy” presented one of the biggest threats to national security. Perhaps the vice president was more correct than the critics are giving her credit for, but the threat she identified (state laws with the proffered goal of ballot integrity) does nothing to address another insidious harm to democracy demonstrated over the last 20 years.
This past Sept. 11 marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that resulted in almost 3,000 deaths and injuries to several thousand more. Our response to those attacks ushered in the longest uninterrupted period of combat operations in the nation’s history. Yet, although the 9/11 attacks affronted all Americans, only a small percentage of them have sought military service since that tragic day. But beyond the aggressive exercise of presidential war powers across at least four administrations and decades of congressional acquiescence, the people of the United States must also bear some responsibility for their inaction.
The impact of extended deployments and combat operations on military personnel and their families is well documented. Indeed, the current and previous administrations have taken several important steps to support military veterans and their families. Those measures, however, neither absolve the American public from its obligation to participate in a discourse on the appropriate use of military force, nor do they address the increasing attenuation between the American people and the wars fought on their behalf.