Political activity by service members can be risky if it is partisan or divisive.
In recent years, a growing chorus of commentators has raised concerns about the military’s engagement in politics, from veterans endorsing candidates to active-duty soldiers using social media to criticize elected officials. However, political activity by U.S. military members is nothing new. Beginning with the founding of the republic until roughly Reconstruction, there was significant overlap between military and political leadership. The period from the end of Reconstruction through just after World War II saw the establishment and entrenchment of the military’s professional ethic against political activity. Since the end of World War II, service members increasingly have become more politically vocal, with military politicking accelerating in the past few decades with the rise of veteran endorsements.