For those of you who believe that Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama for president doesn’t matter, think again:
Today’s active-duty Army is more diverse than soldiers of decades past could ever have imagined. His unit in Iraq includes U.S. soldiers who were born in Mexico, Russia, Senegal, Ecuador, and Iran. In the barracks, they hurl racial stereotypes at one another as a joke. But, the NCO said, they are all disturbed when they hear Gov. Sarah Palin talk about small, predominantly white towns as the “real America.” And they were all moved when they heard Gen. Powell bemoan the tendency, especially among the Republicans’ right-wing “base,” to equate “Muslim” with “anti-American.” One of the NCO’s best friends, who was killed in a firefight and remains much missed by everyone in the unit, was an American soldier named Omar.
The soldier cautioned against exaggeration. He knows plenty of soldiers who wouldn’t dream of voting for Obama, either because they admire McCain too much or because they’re self-described “rednecks.” Still, many soldiers are sitting on the fence, and Gen. Powell’s endorsement could push them into Obama’s camp.