October 27, 2004 -- John Kerry's demagogy might serve a purpose other than driving voters to George Bush. In a debate Kerry raised the specter that a second Bush administration might re-institute the military draft. Bush answered clearly and in no uncertain terms that this was not going to happen. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has echoed this pronouncement, adding that the military doesn't need a draft and that a volunteer army is more effective.

The Leftist media, of course, has tried to play up the charge, despite the lack of evidence. A page three, half-page story in the "Washington Post" on October 27 was entitled "Small Minority Says Draft Could Happen." While much of the story had to document the lack of support for a draft, a couple of commentators maintained that maybe, just maybe, if America goes to war with Iran and North Korea, a draft might be needed, principally to make up on the home front for National Guard troops deployed overseas. 

Of course, one would suspect that the Democrats would be the ones who want to force young Americans into the military. The major attempt in Congress - if it could be called that - to establish universal national service this year was spearheaded by Rep. Charles Rangel, a radical Left New York Democrat, in H.R. 163, co-sponsored by others on the Left, including Jim McDermott (D-WA), John Conyers (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Pete Stark (D-CA), and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), with no Republican support. The bill was defeated by 404 to 2.
Rangel sponsored the bill based in part on the preposterous propaganda propagated by movie misfit Michael Moore, that minorities have died disproportionately in the Iraq war. In fact, as of the end of September 2004, of the 1048 Americans killed, 731 were white and 132 were black, about the same proportion of blacks as in the population.
The major attempt in Congress to establish universal national service this year was defeated by 404 to 2.
There are some grounds on which opponents of conscription might be suspicious of the Bush administration but you won't hear these reasons from the Democrats since many of them are even guiltier than the Republicans. The Bush administration expanded the so-called national service program that was set up by President Clinton. Of course, it is absurd to sell this program as promoting "voluntarism" since it does so with taxpayer dollars, which are not turned over by us voluntarily, to be paid to those who would not ask for money if they were truly "volunteering."
But as bad as this is, such programs are mandated in some states as a requirement for graduating high school. In addition to - in effect - conscripting students, these local programs, like the national one and like military conscription, are based on the immoral premise that we each owe service to the state or society. Yet the philosophical premise of America and any free society is that we each have the right to our own lives, that we don't need to "earn" them by service to others. Only an uncivil society of slaves would be based on the premise of national service.
It is too bad that the reasons why the draft or any form of community or national service should be rejected are not being discussed in this election campaign. But the good news is that the recent controversy shows that most politicians trip over one another to avoid being painted as "pro-draft." Let's hope that this sentiment holds!

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Edward Hudgins

About The Author:

Edward Hudgins is the former director of advocacy for The Atlas Society, the author of numerous Atlas Society commentaries, and the editor of several books on politics and government policy. He is now research director for the Heartland Institute. He has also worked at the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

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