Return of the draft

Democrat control of the US Congress inevitably puts the issue of the draft onto the political agenda. This, of course, flies in the face of what the Democrats' own propaganda machine implies. I believe polling showed that among young people who voted for Kerry a majority thought Bush had a secret plan to reinstate the draft. The under-30s was the only demographic in which Kerry drew a higher percentage than Gore had done. Despite this propaganda success by the Democrats, it is actually only Democrats who support bringing back the draft.

The Boston Globe recently ran a story about the influential Congressional Democrat, Charlie Rangel, and his plans to reinstate the draft. Note that only Rangel is quoted as supporting the draft and the only people quoted in the article as opposing it are Republicans. Note, also, that this the Boston Globe John Kerry's hometown paper. In addition to Rangel, John Murtha, who contested the post of Majority Leader, and did so with the support of the new Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is another leading supporter of the draft.

The same Boston Globe recently ran a pollon the draft. It asks people if they are worried not that the Democrat controlled Congress might bring back the draft, but that the Bush administration might. There is no option for voting "no, the administration is ideologically opposed to the idea", the premise of the poll is that Bush wants the draft, it is only a question of whether or not he is stupid enough to actually push for it.

Recall, that this is the Boston Globe, which is owned by the New York Times, and therefore not officially part of the DNC, that is spreading this meme.

So to return, after a short diversion, to the original point. What are the chances that the new Democrat Congress will reinstate the draft? I would think pretty slim. In the run up to the elections they could find only two Representatives to vote in favour of the idea. With the elections won, that would undoubtedly be higher, but I doubt it would be as many as half of the Democrats in Congress. The other half, combined with all Republicans, would vote against. Even if Congress passed such a measure, the President would veto it, and the Democrats have nowhere near the two thirds majority required to override a Presidential veto. There will be discussion of the draft, but no actual draft.

Discussion of the draft will probably continue to be deeply ill-informed. Rangel, like Kerry, seems convinced that people only join the military because they are uneducated and/or poor. The facts show otherwise. People serving in the military have higher average levels of education and wealth than the US population as a whole. Rangel must know this, as it has been pointed out in response to his proposal many times. No doubt he will continue to misrepresent things.

But what if he were right? What if military service were falling disproportionately on one community in a voluntary system. How could this be addressed, short of a draft?

If only there were some system whereby people could be paid for serving in the military. The level of reward would have to be set high enough to attract the right calibre of people, taking into account all the other factors, such as danger, patriotism, etc. Then some method would have to be devised whereby the cost of paying volunteers could be spread across the population as a whole. Then everyone could pay a small amount towards maintaining the military. But how could such a system ever operate?

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