Anyone with a half a brain knows that politicians are self-indulgent ass clowns who don’t have the nation’s best interests in mind, but rather the best interests of themselves, their party, and their private-sector cronies. Doesn’t matter whether they’re Republican, Democrat, Whig, Democratic-Republicans, or Federalist; most of them have their fingers up their ass and let their party feuding take precedence over taking care of their men. It’s the common practice of politicians to go with the easy wrong over the hard right. As a result, the soldier on the ground and the veteran in the wheelchair suffer.
1. They refused to send much-needed resources to George Washington’s troops.
In 1781, the American Revolution had been raging for five years. The Continental Army under George Washington’s command had finally evolved from a haphazard militia to a professional, well-trained military force. Yet they were wasting away in the New Jersey winter. They had not been paid in a long time, were malnourished, and were freezing their balls off because they didn’t have the adequate cold-weather gear. Desperate to keep the ranks filled, they had also been coerced and bullied by their line officers to remain in the Army and reenlist under unfavorable terms after their initial enlistment was up.
George Washington had appealed to the Continental Congress on several occasions urging for the proper funds and supplies so he could adequately pay, feed, and outfit his troops. Yet, the fat, wig-wearing, self-centered politicians let Washington’s pleas go unheard. They were too busy involved in their own corrupt scandals and politicking to give a damn about the common foot soldier’s poor conditions.
The soldiers saw this as a broken promise by their nation. They were putting their life on the line for the Revolutionary cause, yet their government was not fulfilling the most basic part of the deal. They’d had enough. In what came to be known as the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny, with muskets in hand and artillery pieces in tow, virtually the entire Pennsylvania Line headed on a two-day march to Philadelphia to make the ungrateful Congress listen to their demands. They made it as far as Princeton.
Their commanding officer General Wayne caught up with them and negotiations began. The general heard their grievances and they had come to terms: The men who were detained beyond their enlistment or coerced into reenlistment were to be separated with their pay. The men who remained were to get their pay and clothing. The number of men in the Pennsylvania Line was cut in half from 2,400 to 1,150.
2. They used police and military actions on World War I vets.
After coming home from The Great War, American combat veterans realized they had gotten the raw end of the deal. While they were in the trenches of Europe getting shot at, shelled, and gassed, the men who had stayed back on the home front working in war industries had made about ten times as much money as they had. To make a fair readjustment, they lobbied Congress for what would be commonly known as the Bonus Act, which passed in 1924. Each veteran was issued a certificate for $1 for each day of domestic service and $1.25 for each day of overseas service. The catch was that the certificates wouldn’t mature until 1945.
Then, in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression, realizing that many of the fat-cat corporate gods had gotten special treatment from Congress because of their lobbying power, the soldiers decided to press Congress to pass a bill for the early redemption of the certificates to provide some relief from poverty many of them had been experiencing.
Forty-three thousand veterans and their families with little to no money in their pockets traveled from all over the nation to march on DC. The Bonus Army had been mobilized. They organized a well-run Hooverville built from the material salvaged from rubbish dumps. They would peacefully occupy the House of Representatives’ offices to have their voices heard. The strategy worked and the House passed the Wright Patman Bonus Bill. It was a small victory, but their biggest obstacle was just ahead of them: the Republican-run Senate under President Herbert Hoover.
They massed on the United States Capitol awaiting the news, chanting, “The Yanks are starving! The Yanks are starving!” so loudly that they could be heard in the Senate corridors as the bill was being debated. The Senate overwhelmingly struck it down with a 62-18 vote. The marchers were deeply disappointed but decided to remain in continued protest. A month later, with tensions running high, the 72nd Congress adjourned. The cowardly congressmen left the Capitol through the back doors and underground tunnels to avoid any confrontation with the Bonus Army. Now with this session of Congress over, Hoover wanted their poor, unemployed, homeless asses out of DC. He ordered their forceful eviction.
Police went into one of the half-demolished buildings that had been used for housing and began evicting the veterans and their families. Someone threw a brick at one of the police officers, which resulted in the police officers shooting their guns and leaving two veterans dead on the ground. With that bloodshed, it was time to call in the troops commanded by future World War II General Douglas MacArthur.
MacArthur sent over 200 cavalry, 200 infantry, and six tanks to disperse the protesters. The soldiers donned their gas masks and shot tear gas into the crowd. Fearing for their lives, the Bonus Army ran for safety. The soldiers went into the camps and forcefully removed those who occupied it and then set it ablaze. One reporter said, “The blaze was so big it lit up the whole sky. A nightmare come to life.”
3. Pandering to racial bigotry overrode their common sense.
Theodore Roosevelt is considered one of the greatest presidents in our nation’s history, and rightfully so. But even he made a severe mistake in his presidency by succumbing to the racial bigotry and pressure of his time.
In 1906, Brownsville, Texas was a small town with a little over 6,000 people. The community’s citizens were anxious over the fact that a regiment of Buffalo Soldiers had been stationed at nearby Fort Brown. “Buffalo Soldiers” was the name given to all-black units because the military at the time was segregated.
A shooting spree had occurred, leaving a white bartender dead and a Hispanic police officer with a destroyed arm. To the townsfolk, it was pretty obvious whose fault it was. Several people reported seeing some black soldiers leaving the scene of the shooting. Then, to further their conspiracy, they allegedly planted discharged ammunition of the same caliber the Buffalo Soldiers used in their rifles on the ground as evidence. Despite this effort to incriminate them, the soldiers’ all-white commanders insisted that all of their men had been in the barracks that night and had been accounted for at the time of the shooting.
Though there were many contradictions in the evidence and statements given, the Army Inspector General accepted the townsfolk’s statements. This developed into what has become known as the Brownsville Affair.
The soldiers were then pressured to name who fired the shot, but they said they knew nothing about the incident. As much the community wanted to, they could not tie the shootings to any one of the men. Yet on the advisement of the Inspector General to appease the piece-of-shit people of Brownsville, Roosevelt ordered that 167 of the men be given a dishonorable discharge for their “conspiracy of silence.” Among the ranks were men who were had served in the Spanish-American War, some with 20 years in service and only months away from receiving their retirement pensions, and six of whom had been Medal of Honor recipients. Congress later did its own investigation into the matter and upheld Roosevelt’s decision. Those men lost it all because their political leaders lacked the morale and intestinal fortitude to do the right thing. Instead they shoved their corrupt political cocks in their ass and called it a day.
You can read more of my writing at Thought Catalog.