Conventional wisdom on politics in the military can feel almost as age-old as the Constitution itself: Conservative Republicans are strong on defense, and the military skews conservative and Republican. Foreign wars? Bring ‘em on! Unwavering ally of Israel? You betcha. More dollars for defense? If not, you must be with the terrorists.
The 2012 presidential race tells a different story: The lion’s share of political contributions by servicemembers and defense industry workers is going to anti-war, “soft on Israel,” also-ran candidate Ron Paul. In fact, the battle for their dollars isn’t even close: Paul has raised at least $282,868 from individual active-duty servicemembers and Pentagon employees—more than four times what the other three Republican presidential candidates have raised, combined. (President Obama has fared slightly better, drawing $123,644 from that group, but still less than half of Paul’s total. For more, jump to the charts below with the numbers by candidate and branch of the armed services.)
“Clearly there’s something about Paul that appeals to some members of the military,” says Viveca Novak of the Center for Responsive Politics, which provided Mother Jones with the most recent tally of military contributions. “Whether it’s that he speaks his mind, wants to end foreign engagements, has a libertarian’s view of the world—we can’t say.”
One easy explanation has been that Americans in the service have grown tired of a decade of war and identify with Paul’s isolationist anti-interventionist rhetoric.
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