In an interview aired early this month on WYNC, Jesse Jackson said it’s time to bring back the draft. Live from the recent Democrat National Convention, he argued that because many of them don’t have offspring in today’s Armed Services, our representatives in Washington are out of touch with the military.
His solution? Bring back the draft.
And he’s not alone.
Charlie Rangel, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star veteran who was also my Congressional representative for many years, has been arguing to bring the draft back for awhile now. Last year, he brought a vote to the House floor. “If America is going to take this position, all Americans should be prepared to make the sacrifices [service members do],” he said. “It’s abundantly clear that everybody does not assume the same sacrifices, whether we’re talking about taxes or loss of life.”
Is America really out of touch with our unique position?
In her recent book Drift, Rachel Maddow argues that America has grown “weirdly at peace” with ongoing war, and one of the most significant reasons for the nation’s military malaise is the small percentage of American families who actually have a family member doing the fighting.
I have one. So do you. I’m not “weirdly at peace” with anything.
Maybe this disconnect explains why Republican candidate Mitt Romney neglected to discuss the war in Afghanistan in his acceptance speech last week, and why I’m still waiting for a candidate to come forward who makes clear that the war our spouses are fighting IS their policy focus.
The truth is, I haven’t heard from one person who isn’t associated with the military say that this war is one of their voting issues in this election. Maybe it shouldn’t be — maybe the economy and the ongoing debate on health care and social issues are more important to the whole, just like both conventions would lead us to believe. But when we’re sending my husband overseas — and yours — I’m inclined to tell you this issue matters for me. Moreover, I’m inclined to agree that if more people were threatened with the reality of war in their personal lives, they’d care about it, too.
An editorial by Tim Whitaker in the Philly Post earlier this year argued the same. “Fact is, we don’t think about the war in Afghanistan much at all,” he wrote. “We may catch a headline on occasion, but our interest pretty much stops right there. Afghanistan doesn’t affect us personally. Gas prices, that affects us. Health care, that affects us. Afghanistan? It’s hard to get worked up. We don’t know anybody over there, not personally, so we’re not going to go all loco and take to the streets and demand withdrawal and stuff. The president and the military will figure it out one of these days.”
They’ll figure it out one of these days? One of these days?
I’m not sure about you, but “one of these days” I plan to change the filters in my central air unit. “One of these days” I plan to pick up hot yoga. “One of these days” I really will go through my old clothes and pull some out for Goodwill, defrost my refrigerator, and learn Chinese. “One of these days” is not a time frame to discuss the war in an election year.
I’ve always taken great pride in the fact that members of my family, including my husband, chose to serve. They dedicated their lives to being American heroes, and I have dedicated mine to supporting them however I can: with love, patience, care packages, a willingness to be moved all over the world at the drop of a dime, and, most importantly, with my vote.
Shouldn’t our politicians be doing the same?
If we brought back the draft, maybe more people would agree. If we brought back the draft, I wouldn’t be the only wife standing in Trader Joe’s dropping everything because my phone is ringing and it might be the one phone call I’ve been waiting for all week. If we brought back the draft, we’d have a lot more spouses who’d be just as worried about this war as we are.
If we brought back the draft, we wouldn’t be standing on the sidelines through one of the greatest exercises of political rhetoric and largesse in recent years wondering where our issue went.
It appears that the gulf between those of us in the military and everyone else hasn’t been bigger … maybe if we considered bringing back the draft, the rift wouldn’t be quite so large.. What do you think? Would bringing back the draft make a difference?