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Could a Draft Deal With America’s Fortunate Sons?

May 29th, 2008 | by Omnipotent Poobah |

BushwhakedOur good friend Dave Away From Home recently blogged for the reinstatement of the draft. I urge you to read his common-sense post, it’s a great accounting of the pluses and pitfalls - especially on a subject that’s a political third-rail electrified by a very unpopular war.

There’s much to be said for national service, but it makes me uncomfortable when the government demands service. I’d prefer a nation in which citizens are proud of their country and elect to serve rather than being chased down and conscripted. However, I’d be the first to admit that’s a pipe dream. There’ll always be the Cheneys of the world, so convinced of their specialness they’ll breed like rabbits to avoid the crossfire while declaring fellow non-servers unpatriotic leeches on the skin of society.

As always, there’s no shortage of hypocrisy among those John Fogerty branded fortunate sons.

Hiding Behind Mommy’s Skirts
During peacetime people are quick to declare a peace dividend and eviscerate the military. Whether you agree with the War of Error, our military’s current predicament shows the folly of that thinking. A universal draft could shore up our battered military and have the added benefit of forcing the “fortunate sons” out from behind Mommy’s skirts. It’s also a way to get our infrastructure back in shape and be better prepared for the next national disaster - all good arguments.

But compelling national service still sticks in my craw. For me, it’s too much like anti-gay marriage laws or other personal behaviors the government has no business regulating. What is freedom if not the power to decide for yourself what to do with your life? How could a person argue against laws that chill civil rights while simultaneously abridging them by forcing people into indentured servitude, even if it is for our society’s greater good?

I don’t have an answer and I don’t believe there is a clear one.

How Many Liberties Do We Need to Lose?
But I’m a practical man. I know blindly objective stances always boil down to subjective decisions. In court, laws cease being inviolable, clear-cut rules and start breathing as a living organism serving society. Law practiced right is a careful balance between the desires of a few and the needs of the many.

A universal draft lies along that fault line.

So in the end, the draft isn’t so much about troop strength, rebuilding our nation, or forcing the nation’s fortunate sons to accept the responsibilities of being a citizen. It’s a matter of how we express and use our liberties. Many, including me, believe we’ve already given up more liberties than is wise. Is the price of giving up one more worth the cost of preserving the few liberties we have left? I believe so, but my decision is predicated on a new draft being implemented properly. Given our current political state and the toxic nature of the issue, there’s scant reason to believe it will or will truly benefit the nation as a whole.

I may be a practical man, but I also dream of the great things this country can do. A universal draft is a big gamble, but has huge payoffs. We certainly aren’t ready for a universal draft today. Draft dodgers and pusillanimous parttime fighter pilots still hold sway and they’ve shown they neither respect the law nor take responsibility for anything - including their own behavior when they had a chance to serve. Leaving a this important decision in their incompetent hands will surely produce a universal draft that’s both unfair and doesn’t meet the needs of the nation. No, this decision can’t be made until the nation heals itself and calm heads on both sides of the aisle can work together and with the American people to define exactly what a draft should do and how we can implement it properly.

Unfortunately, I’m not holding my breath on that one.


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  1. One Response to “Could a Draft Deal With America’s Fortunate Sons?”

  2. By christopher Radulich on May 29, 2008 | Reply

    I believe in universal government service for everyone immediately after graduating HS. The only exception should be if it cost the government too much to accommodate a disability.

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