Ramapo professor analyzes why vets run in new book

Photo by Isaiah McCall

Students, professors and veterans of all ages flocked to the Alumni Lounges on Wednesday, Oct. 3, to support Ramapo’s own Professor Jeremy M. Teigen and his recently released book, “Why Veterans Run: Military Service in American Presidential Elections, 1789-2016.”

Teigen, who has a family history of military support with his father and grandfather both serving in the armed forces, hosted the event with help from the Civic & Community Engagement Center who co-sponsored the event. Teigen broke down the intricacies of his work and elaborated on the significance as to why veterans so often run for office.

“Military experience translates into some sort of experience at the polls,” said an enthusiastic Teigen. 

The fact that veterans had some sort of edge over the competition became even clearer when Teigen offered data to support his claims. He stated that 46 of 76 of presidential candidates were vets, a staggering 60 percent of the total candidates.

Teigen shifted the conversation when he challenged his own findings by asking, “Why care?” in regards to the connection between political officials and military experience. He swiftly answered this question with another barrage of facts and findings:

“Political officials who are vets are less likely to start wars but are more likely to expand conflicts that have already started,” Teigen stated. “Presidents who tend to be more ‘successful’ also tend to be veterans.”

Many people believe that there’s a direct impact in having veterans as representatives in political office, and these veterans who do decide to run know that their prior military experience gives them an advantage over the competition. Teigen gave many examples of political officials using their military experience to elevate their political careers but perhaps one of the best was former Secretary of State John Kerry stating, “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty.”

Professor Teigen then explained that support for veterans is ingrained into American culture and that veterans are like some sort of “super citizen” in our society.

“It’s an easy cue for voters in a complicated political arena,” said Teigen. “Kind of like we all root for the same team in the Olympics.”

Backing up this notion was another story presented at the event – that even former president Bill Clinton himself found military experience so important for running someday that he needed a viable excuse for why he alluded the draft at a young age.  

As the event began to wind down, Teigen gave one last look at the layout of his book, which he organized into eras and by what wars defined each generation. It was fairly obvious that Teigen was fully prepared to lecture even further on the subject but he sped through the last few slides of his presentation in an effort to segue into the reception.

Directly adjacent to where the main event transpired, the reception harbored a meet-and-greet environment along with an array of food and drinks that included various wines and cheeses. An elated Teigen thanked his friends and supporters for attending the event and answered any further questions they had.

The paperback version of “Why Veterans Run: Military Service in American Presidential Elections, 1789-2016” retails for around $30 on Amazon.