The draft scares 'em
Is he coming for YOU?
CBS News continues an election-year series titled "What Does It Mean To You?" focused on where the presidential candidates stand on major issues and how a vote for one or the other candidate might affect average people's lives.
In this report, CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger looks at what President Bush and Sen. John Kerry say about the possibilities of reinstituting the military draft.
Beverly Cocco has spent most of her life protecting children in Philadelphia.
She spends most of her time worrying about other people's kids. But as Election Day approaches, it's her own two grown sons who Beverly is most worried about.
"I go to bed every night and I pray and I actually get sick to my stomach," she says. "I'm very worried; I'm scared. I'm absolutely scared; I'm petrified."
Beverly is petrified about a military draft – and she's not alone. There's an undercurrent of anxiety; mass e-mails are circulating among parents worried their kids could be called up.
"I think there's a good possibility," Beverly says.
But neither President Bush, nor Sen. John Kerry has said he will re-institute the draft. In fact they both say they won't.
"The war on terror will continue," says the president. "It's going to take a while and no, we don't need a draft."
But Beverly's not buying it. She's a Republican, but also a single-issue voter.
Would she vote for a Democrat? "Absolutely," she says. "I would vote for Howdy Doody if I thought it would keep my boys home and safe."
"I think we could do it in less than six months if we got the call," says Selective Service Director Jack Martin.
This time, Martin says there would be no long deferments for college students and a lot more people could be eligible for the draft than before: men and women ages 18 to 26 could be called up.
There hasn't been a draft since 1973, but that's not much comfort to Beverly Cocco.
So she is keeping a sharp eye on the political traffic. She's a Bush supporter today, but if she doesn't like what she hears between now and November, she could easily cross over.
As a reality, the draft is very unlikely because Congress lives in fear of Beverly Cocco and millions like her. They know that if they vote for one, they'll vote themselves out of office. Americans have never liked conscription. In World War II, the draft was used as a way to control the rate of induction after the long lines after Pearl Harbor.
But there has never been a war without draft resistance.
The military doesn't want a draft because they don't want the halfwits and losers which it will bring. Everyone sees this great pool of draftees from America's colleges and the middle class, but the reality is that far more slackers and idiots will be sucked in and shoved towards the combat arms and transportation. Between homosexuality, pregnancy and medical deferments, the middle class will still find an out. It's the guys who can barely read out of high school, the people who have non-felony criminal records and the slackers who spend their days stocking at Wal-Mart who will flood the military, which is their nightmare. They've grown used to bright, if poor, and motivated kids they can work with. Sullen kids who don't want to be in the military are not what they want or need.
Why? A South Carolina Guard artillery unit bound for Iraq, filled with older men and former active duty soliders, had to be locked down because they were going AWOL, drinking and fighting. Imagine a unit of sullen, unhappy draftees. Would you want them to serve next to you in Iraq. The current soldiers may not be happy, but they volunteered for the military. They chose this life, whether out of boredom or seeking adventure or to walk around with a gun every day, they sought it out and that is the only glue holding the army together at this point. Once you introduce the unwilling, you risk a whole host of bad reactions, including increased drug use, violence and poor discipline.
People forget the antics of the late Vietnam War army, the one riven with racial division, drug use and lack of discipline. Is that the Army we want? Because that's the one you'd get with a draft for Iraq.
However, if I were a Democratic campaign operative, I would pound on this issue. I would go on college campuses and stress that the draft may well come back as losses in Iraq increase. They're already taking the IRR, the Guard is getting 18 month deployments, the next pool of people is America's registered men. They could suck them in and ship them out.
I would say that a new draft will not protect you because you are in college and Canada is not going to let you in. So when the draft come you're going to have two choices, jail or the military.
George Bush has lied about everything so far. Why do you think he's not lying about the draft? That would be a theme I would harp on.
I would scare the kids and their parents stupid with the fear of conscription. Put up posters with John Kerry's line "Do you want to be the last man to die for a mistake" and cover colleges with them.
Do I think the draft is a realistic solution? No. We don't have the year to spare in Iraq, we need men today. But I think if a 527 wanted to scare kids into voting, well, it might not be a bad thing.
posted by Steve @ 9:22:00 AM