The WaPo’s Terry Neal asks if wealthy Republicans are pulling their own weight in the war.
I asked Army spokeswoman Maj. Elizabeth Robbins for further explanation on the intent of the [“Influencer”] ads.
“Clearly it was to talk to influencers,” she said. She said studies have shown that today’s young people yearn to serve their country in one way or another. The problem is that today the people who influence their decisions “are less likely than they were in past generations to recommend [military service].”
“In part because the economy is strong,” said Robbins. “In part because they are concerned about the war. And in part because fewer of them have a direct relationship with the military or have ever served.”
So would it be logical to conclude that, if the strong economy is one of the reasons it is more difficult to recruit, the most affluent parents should be the most difficult to reach? After all, their children have more options, including college, than less affluent parents? And if that’s true, isn’t it somewhat ironic that the military is paying millions of dollars ultimately to influence the behavior of the parents who are among the most likely to be supportive of the war in Iraq?
“I disagree with your premise,” Robbins said, arguing that the military is represented strongly across the board by people of all income levels and faces challenges in recruiting at all income levels.”
In the 2004 election, household income was a pretty decent indicator of how one might vote. Voters from households making more than $50,000 a year favored Bush 56 percent to 43 percent. Voters making $50,000 or less favored Kerry 55-44 percent. Median household income as of 2003 was $43,318, according to the U.S. Census.
The wealthier you become, apparently, the more likely you are to vote Republican. The GOP advantage grows more pronounced for people from households making more than $100,000. People from households with incomes exceeding that amount voted for Bush over Kerry by 58 percent to 41 percent. Those from households making less than $100,000 favored Kerry over Bush 51-49 percent. And nearly two-thirds of voters from households making more than $200,000 favored Bush over Kerry.
By looking at long-term trends, it seems logical that some of those most likely to support Bush and his Iraq policy are also those least likely to encourage their children to go into the military at wartime. And it raises questions, such as, if you are among those most likely to support the war, shouldn’t you be among those most likely to encourage your child to serve in the military? Shouldn’t your socioeconomic group be the most receptive to the recruiters’ call? And would there be a recruitment problem at all if the affluent put their money where their mouth is?
This raises all sorts of complicated socioeconomic questions, such as whether the rich expect others to fight their wars for them. Or, asked another way, are they more likely to support the war in Iraq because their families are less likely to carry part of the burden?
Among the more recent studies was one done last year by Robert Cushing, a retired professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. He tracked those who died in Iraq by geography and found that whites from small, mostly poor, rural areas made up a disproportionately large percentage of the casualties in Iraq.