How a Democrat Can Get My Vote
Stay and Fight
By Garth Stewart
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I am a moderate Republican. The short answer to the question of what it would take for me to vote for a Democrat is simply this: George W. Bush. (That’s what made me vote for John Kerry in 2004.) In 2008, though, the largest policy issue casting a shadow over my vote will be that of Iraq. I am a youth who has served in Iraq in the U.S. Army, and my experience dramatically changed my views. I was against the invasion initially, because I felt alarmed at the hostility from the international community and ashamed at the idea that we were forcing a war on a smaller, weaker country. (Even so, I wasn’t about to let my country go to war without me, and if I had reservations about the conflict, then it was all the better I be there to help make it more humane.) Later, my time in Iraq changed my opinion into one of wholehearted support for the war. That’s because I admitted to myself that I believe in three very important ideas:

Subscribe Online & Save 33%The first is simply dumb patriotism. Perhaps readers will not believe that such naive notions toward country still exist, but my peers in the military are a living testament to them. It shouldn’t seem unreasonable to anyone that men and women who have been willing to fight this war might also be willing to vote to ensure the conflict is negotiated to the advantage of our nation. If we are at war, then I want to win. As a person who has already invested a lot of time, sweat, and blood into this venture, I naturally want to see it become a success.

Second, I believe that the Iranian revolution in 1979 ended a century-long secularizing trend in the Middle East. The newer shift toward theocracy alarms me. I saw the invasion of Iraq as having great potential to change the entire region for the better. I understand the criticisms and accusations about colonialism and the honest and sober fears Americans have about being viewed as imperialists. However, the people we are fighting must be taught what civil rights are, regardless of how old their civilization may be. If we don’t do it, no one else will. Satisfying our strategic interests as a nation requires that we fix something that would otherwise continue to be a threat.

Lastly, I have a problem with al-Qaeda. We might have been diverted from fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan with the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t also fighting al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. I cannot give my vote to anyone who would advocate withdrawal in the face of our sworn enemies. Unfortunately, that’s what leading Democrats are doing, and why they’re unlikely to get my support. Whoever comes forward and owns the “withdrawal vote” in 2008 can be sure to lose mine. The Democrat who can gain my vote will be the one who comes forward with a plan to win.

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Garth Stewart is a sophomore at Columbia University. He served in Iraq as a mortar gunner in the 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion in 2003.  
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