US needs more veterans in politics

Opinion

January 14, 2019 - 9:22 AM

Forty years ago, military veterans made up roughly three-quarters of Congress. By 2017, the proportion had dwindled to fewer than one in five. The number of veterans on Capitol Hill will dip slightly again next year, because of retirements — but the elections of 2018 were nonetheless a turning point of sorts. At least 170 veterans received major-party nominations for national office and at least 75 won office. (The figures are estimates: There’s no official tally.) Of these, at least 18 are new to Congress — the most in nearly a decade.

Americans should care about this.

Until an age of peace and harmony dawns — little sign of this yet — Congress needs the perspective and experience of former service members, particularly those who’ve served in the post-9/11 era. A shared background in the armed forces might help check the excessive partisanship that hobbles America’s system of government. And with polls showing Congress to be deeply unpopular, an influx of members from the institution Americans continue to respect the most certainly can’t hurt.

Related