While many areas of contemporary politics are clearly split on party lines, both Democrats and Republicans agree that veterans ought to have access to some benefits that others do not, and the committees responsible for formulating the bulk of veterans’ policies are considered to be some of the most functioning within Congress. Despite this top-level consensus, the position of veterans and public opinion on veterans’ policies straddles the ideological positions of the major US parties. The public is generally in favor of generous support for veterans, yet there are grumblings that too much is spent on this population at the cost of investing in others or reducing government spending overall. Republicans typically espouse ideals of small government, low government spending, the self-reliance of individuals, a strong and supported military, and the commitment to the preeminence of the United States as a world super power. Democrats tend to hold values that stress diplomacy over military might to best represent America, more government spending and interjection into parts of the economy, as well as a commitment to helping individuals when they cannot find a way to help themselves. Veterans sit at an ideological intersection between these two positions. In some ways that is ideal because it allows for areas of bipartisan agreement, yet in other ways sometimes the work of one party is conflated with the voices of the other.
Lindsey Cormack is an assistant professor of political science and director of the Diplomacy Lab at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Her research on congressional communications has been published in Legislative Studies Quarterly and Gender Studies as well as in popular outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Hill. She maintains the only digital database of all official Congress-to-constituent e-newsletters at www.dcinbox.com.