When Will Fischer, executive director of the Union Veterans Council, voted for the first time in the 2002 election, it affected more than just the conversations and media around him— it affected his daily uniform as he laced up combat boots and headed to war.
This striking, lifelong impact explains why Fischer now spearheads rallies and speeches across the country, including one in Kansas City last Tuesday, Sept. 27. His message is simple, but urgent: cautioning veterans and other voters against letting Donald Trump into the White House.
“[Trump] has shown himself time and time again to be a capricious charlatan, with no plan whatsoever,” said Fischer, “besides for attacking the military, insulting our veterans, alienating our allies, and pan-dancing for authoritarian figures like Vladimir Putin. I just don’t think that’s going to get the job done.”
Fischer criticized what he sees as rare glimpses of Trump’s policies, which include eliminating the GI bill and privatizing the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. He also challenged Trump’s perspective of what honoring and aiding a veteran really means.
“What a veteran needs access to more than anything upon returning home is not a yellow ribbon—it’s not a pat on the back and a ‘thank you,’” Fischer said. “It’s access to a good job that gives the veteran the ability to live out life with dignity and live the American dream that we fought to protect.”
In addition to fearing that veterans’ security would be rapidly compromised by a Trump presidency, Fischer expressed concern over national security.
“Is he going to blow up someone because they sent a mean tweet?” Fischer wondered aloud. “Is he going to send us all into a nuclear war because someone hurt his feelings?”
This question recalled Trump’s wild social media callouts of public figures, from President Obama to news host Joe Scarborough, to even pop singer Katy Perry. However, Fischer’s question prompts listeners to consider such behavior from the viewpoint of soldiers who would intervene in these quickly spurred conflicts.
Fischer further illustrated this threat’s significance for a majority of Americans by raising the question, “Do you want your children to live in a world where Donald Trump has access to the nuclear codes?”
In response to their concerns about Trump, Fischer and his organization, Union Veterans Council, have endorsed Secretary Hillary Clinton for the presidency.
“I think that we have seen time and time again, and certainly on the debate stage, that Hillary Clinton is someone with a plan to provide not only national security, but also economic security,” Fischer said. “I believe she will not only keep Americans safe but also keep the American dream safe. Hillary Clinton has a plan that involves keeping people together and working with our allies.”
Fischer predicts that Trump will be the only Republican candidate in modern American political history to not win a majority of veteran votes come election day. While he acknowledges that Trump has led Clinton in recent veteran polling, Fischer compares this narrow sliver of about 7 percent of veterans to the double digits that Mitt Romney boasted over Barack Obama and the nearly 30 percent advantage of George W. Bush over John Kerry.
With such unusual numbers, it is evident that Clinton and Trump’s face-off will make for an equally unusual election day. However, Fischer urges voters to also consider the ordinary: the effects that each candidate could have on an individual American’s daily life. Fischer knows firsthand just how literally and suddenly life can become a war zone after a pivotal electoral decision.
“Going to war — it made [the election] real life for me,” Fischer said. “It made me realize that elections have consequences and politics matter, and that if you want to see certain things happen, if you want certain changes, you have to be involved.”