Some Democrats who are hammering President Donald Trump for suggesting the U.S. conduct a military parade weren’t so opposed to the idea just a few years ago.
Inspired by the military parade showcased during France’s Bastille Day, President Trump has increased calls to conduct a similar parade to celebrate and honor the U.S. military.
However, the idea has been met with fierce resistance from Democratic politicians who believe such a military demonstration would be too synonymous to military parades conducted in more autocratic regimes.
“Because authoritarian regimes like Russia and North Korea hold massive military parades does not mean that we must as well,” U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu said, according to Fox News. The California Democrat has lately served as a vehement opponent of the Trump administration and one of many Democrats panning the idea of a military demonstration.
“A military parade of this kind would also be a departure from the values of our constitutional democracy,” said Adam Smith, a Democratic congressman from Washington state, in a statement to Politco. “A military parade like this — one that is unduly focused on a single person — is what authoritarian regimes do, not democracies.”
While many of these critics may genuinely stand against the concept of the U.S. performing such a demonstration, it is notably the fact that many on the left do not like where the idea is coming from — President Trump, as Democrats in the not-so-distant past have been very receptive to the idea of military parades.
In 2014, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, speaking at an event in Manhattan, publicly called for a welcome home parade for veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, even calling such a practice a “longstanding American tradition.”
“With the war in Afghanistan winding down, now is the time to keep with longstanding American tradition and kick off a campaign for the first New York City welcome home parade for troops that served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Schumer stated, according to the New York Daily News.
Schumer wasn’t alone in thinking this was a great idea. Mayor Bill de Blasio, a far-left politician, seconded the senator’s call for a procession to celebrate veterans of the two post-9/11 wars.
“The brave men and women who have selflessly served our nation with courage and skill in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve a recognition for their sacrifice,” de Blasio stated at the time. “I stand with Senator Schumer in his call for a parade to honor our veteran heroes, and New York City would be proud to host this important event.”
To be sure, what the two New York Democrats had in mind and what the current president wants are not completely similar. While Schumer called for a more-or-less public thanks to veterans, Trump is seemingly looking for an overt display of military might comparable to what he saw on Bastille Day.
Already in favor of such a parade, Trump was reportedly taken aback when he visited France and stood beside President Emmanuel Macron for the country’s day of national celebration, popularly referred to as Bastille Day.
Trump, well known for his affection of nationalist displays, was reportedly mesmerized by the spectacle of uniformed French troops marching in Paris with gun trucks, armored vehicles, military tanks and carriers — including fighter jets that flew overhead, painting the sky with lines of the colors of the French flag.
“It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen,” Trump said of the event two months later at the United Nations General Assembly. “It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France.”
“We’re going to have to try to top it,” the president added, with Macron sitting right next to him.
In a January meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other top generals in the Pentagon, Trump heated up talks of planning a grand military parade to be held later this year. One official familiar with the meeting described the president’s wishes to be a directive.
“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” an anonymous military official stated to the Washington Post. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”
It’s not entirely clear what the White House has in mind, or even what they can do given extreme pushback from lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
For example, the D.C. Council, which is controlled by Democrats, publicly warned that they would block any sort of efforts to hold a military parade within the nation’s capital city, with Chairman Phil Mendelson calling the idea contrary to the country’s “democratic ideals.”
Despite such opposition, the Trump administration stated they are still looking to hold such a celebration and currently considering their options.
“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe,” White House press secretary Sanders stated in a news briefing. “He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”
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