Last week, New York Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel proposed reinstating the draft.
“This president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” Rangel said.
While his logic – that a military full of poor kids isn’t exactly fair – is respectable, his idea of a modern-day draft is one that generally rouses anger among Americans.
According to CNN.com, polls show about 70 percent of Americans oppose the draft. And we’re willing to bet there aren’t a whole lot of young adults aged 18 to 26 (the age range of Americans the new draft would apply to) who fall into the 30 percent of countrymen who do agree with the idea of reinstating the draft.
Luckily, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other high-powered politicians have come out in opposition of Rangel’s proposal, insisting a volunteer military suits the United States’ overseas needs just fine. And while it’s rare that the Stater editorial board sides with Rumsfeld on anything at all, we’re inclined to agree with his suggestion that “the disadvantages of using compulsion to bring into the armed forces the men and women needed are notable.”
It’s a sad truth that many of the men and women who volunteer for military service in this country do so because they can find no other options. Unable to afford college and unwilling to work at McDonald’s their entire lives, they figure that by enlisting, they’ll serve a couple years and then receive an education courtesy of the government’s pocketbook. Unfortunately, a large number of those U.S. service members die in the process – the War on Terror has already racked up more than 3,000 American deaths.
Rangel’s dream of a draft that would force Americans of all socioeconomic statuses to serve the country is idealistic, at best. Although CNN reported the new draft would make it more difficult for drafted Americans to escape duty, it can still be assumed that draft dodgers and conscientious objectors would come out of the proverbial woodwork to oppose their conscription.
Here’s the thing: The rich have always been able to get out of draft duty more stealthily than their less-affluent countrymen, using money, power and Daddy’s connections to get out of military duty and remain safely at home. Anyone of lower socioeconomic status has virtually no chance of escaping the draft – it’s either go to war or go to jail, two equally unappealing options for many Americans.
So in the end, although Rangel’s motives for reinstating the draft are noble, it just doesn’t seem probable that the plan would do much in the way of forcing politicians to feel the pain of war. Their own kids would more than likely still slither out of draft duty (George W. Bush, anyone?), and middle- and lower-class Americans would bear most of the burden.
Good try, Mr. Rangel, but unless the Bush twins are the first ones to be shipped over to Iraq under the newly reinstated draft, we’re just not buying it.
The above is the consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.