On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, ordering “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”
As a result, we have a military that has become a the most colorblind meritocracy in the nation. It’s the norm to live in an environment where rank, not color, defines heirarchy, where people routinely work and live with people from diverse backgrounds, and where looking up the chain of command involves people of many colors.
Racial lines have faded in the military to the point where rates of interracial marriage are significantly higher in the military than in the population at large. At the conclusion of the Clinton administration, this included Defense Secretary William Cohen and “First Lady of the Pentagon” Janet Langhart.
Barack Obama is a candidate to become Commander in Chief, and the military looks at a son of an African father and white mother and sees nothing unusual. While he doesn’t look like any of the dead presidents, he does look like someone who belongs up the military chain of command.
When we count the votes, look at individual precincts and exit polls, I suspect we are going to find that Barack Obama will do very well among a military population that has traditionally been GOP-friendly.