October 19, 2018 - Friday
Military Poll a Morale Victory for Trump
Under Barack Obama, the biggest threat to our military might have been the policies of the man in charge of it. From the toppling of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to the rollout of open transgenderism, most service members couldn't wait to get back to the business of warfighting. In 2016, they got their wish. After eight long years, the new commander-in-chief went to work, rescuing our troops from the radical grip of the Obama years. "I want a very, very strong military," Donald Trump said. And he is proving it.
It wasn't easy restoring a sense of pride to a military devastated by two terms of social engineering. But this president didn't wilt under the pressure. He walked right into the fire and did what was right -- whether the issue was the budget, sexuality, faith, gender, or draft-related. Now, almost two years into upending the policies of Obama, Trump's troops are showing their gratitude. About 44 percent of active-duty troops have a favorable view of the commander-in chief -- nine points higher than Obama's top mark.
Of course, the headlines will be misleading. Even the reporters at the Military Times, who conducted the poll, say the president's support is "fading." But barely. Unlike Barack Obama, who watched his approval rating fall through basement -- barely cracking 15 percent when he left office -- Donald Trump is only 2.8 points off his 46.1 percent mark from inauguration day. That's almost within the statistical margin of error. Obama's support, on the other hand, almost completely evaporated, dropping 25 points between 2009 and 2015.
When it comes to Trump's actual policies, the numbers are night and day. "Troops surveyed continue to give high marks to the president for his handling of military issues specifically," the survey points out. "More than 60 percent said they believe the military is in better shape now than it was under President Barack Obama, and nearly the same number have a favorable view of his handling of the military." Only 13 percent think Obama's military was in better shape than Trump's. That shouldn't be surprising. Instead of dismantling the military like the last administration, this president is focused on rebuilding it. And when he does, it's with an eye on their mission -- not his.
"Trump has done some things to win the hearts of the military, whether it has been the budget or just avoiding a foreign policy catastrophe," said political science professor Peter Feaver. "And he has talked about the importance of the military, making it a focus of his campaign and presidency." Some of the men and women interviewed agreed. "[Trump's] definitely improving the readiness of the military and giving us the resources we need to get the mission done, not hamstringing us by cutting our budget," said Staff Sgt. Kyle Overholser, an airman stationed in Arizona.
And while officers trail in their enthusiasm of Trump, even their favorability ratings have jumped 10 points -- from 31 percent a year ago to 41 percent now. In the enlisted ranks, there's always been a more positive opinion of the president than negative. Gender seems to be the only real divide. Female troops (who made up just 11 percent of the respondents) are much less supportive of this White House than their male counterparts.
Thanks to President Trump, the military is finally fighting something other than the culture wars. And honestly, that's the difference between his administration and Obama's. This president uses our troops to advance America's interests -- not his own. And our service members aren't the only appreciative ones!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.