Last fall I winced whenever Hillary Clinton or her surrogates promised regime change in Syria. Don't these people get it? Americans don't want to be waging more wars in the Middle East.
Now an important new study has come out showing that Clinton paid for this arrogance: professors argue that Clinton lost the battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in last year's presidential election because they had some of the highest casualty rates during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and voters there saw Clinton as the pro-war candidate.
By contrast, her pro-war positions did not hurt her in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California, the study says; because those states were relatively unscathed by the Middle East wars.
The study is titled "Battlefield Casualties and Ballot Box Defeat: Did the Bush-Obama Wars Cost Clinton the White House?" Authors Francis Shen, associate professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Dougas Kriner, a political science professor at Boston University, strike a populist note:
"With so much post-election analysis, it is surprising that no one has pointed to the possibility that inequalities in wartime sacrifice might have tipped the election. Put simply: perhaps the small slice of America that is fighting and dying for the nation's security is tired of its political leaders ignoring this disproportionate burden."
Their study argues that there is a direct relationship between those states that gained Republican votes from Romney's defeat in 2012 to Trump's win in 2016 and those states that have higher casualty rates in Middle East wars.
At Reason.com, Ed Krayewski summarizes the findings:
"A new study attributes Donald Trump's victory last year to communities hit hardest by military casualties and angry about being ignored. These voters, the authors suggest, saw Trump as an 'opportunity to express that anger at both political parties.'"
Krayewski summarizes the data behind the conclusion:
"The study... found a 'significant and meaningful relationship between a community's rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump.' The statistical model it used suggested that if Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin had suffered 'even a modestly lower casualty rate,' all three could have flipped to Hillary Clinton, making her the president. The study controlled for party identification, comparing Trump's performance in the communities selected to Mitt Romney's performance in 2012. It also controlled for other relevant factors, including median family income, college education, race, the percentage of a community that is rural, and even how many veterans there were.
And here are the authors themselves on the moral hazard at work here. The people who decide are not suffering as much.
"America has been at war continuously for over 15 years, but few Americans seem to notice. This is because the vast majority of citizens have no direct connection to those soldiers fighting, dying, and returning wounded from combat. Increasingly, a divide is emerging between communities whose young people are dying to defend the country, and those communities whose young people are not."
Here is another powerful excerpt from the paper:
"Imagine a country continuously at war for nearly two decades. Imagine that the wars were supported by both Democratic and Republican presidents. Continue to imagine that the country fighting these wars relied only on a small group of citizens -- a group so small that those who served in theater constituted less than 1 percent of the nation's population, while those who died or were wounded in battle comprised far less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the nation's population.
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