Nate Bethea is co-host of the podcast A Hell of a Way to Die, a funny, often bracing show about the intersection of leftist politics and American military culture. While serving as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army from 2007-2014, and deploying to Afghanistan in 2009-2010, Bethea reports that he “lived the Army values so hard that I became a socialist.” In this conversation, he discusses the hazards of being openly left while on active duty, the disturbing rise of MAGA-style fascism among veterans, and how his experience at war deepened his political commitments:
“Leftist veterans aren’t coming from the perspective that everyone should be in the military, but what we’re saying is that we’ve seen some of these policies put forth in the military, we’ve seen things like universal health care, things like the GI Bill covering your full tuition—we see these things, and we think, why can’t everybody have this?
And we also have seen the waste and the stupidity . . . the containers full of shit burned in Afghanistan, vehicles valued at $300,000 abandoned in Iraq . . . I mean, if you take ROTC paying for my undergrad, and the GI Bill paying for my M.F.A., and if I had done a Ph.D., all of that tuition put together, and all the cost of living allowance they’ve given me, would not equal the cost of one stupid Humvee that we gave to the Iraqis and then ISIS stole, and then we bombed it with a bomb that cost more than the Humvee.”