It wasn't two weeks after Democrats took control of
Congress that we heard the "d" word.
I was once a Republican because of two Republican presidents: Abraham
Lincoln, who freed the slaves; and Richard Nixon, who freed young men
from the military draft. As the 13th Amendment says, "Neither slavery
nor involuntary servitude ..."
The Vietnam draft was the issue that got me involved in politics, and a
reason I decided that I don't like government in general -- and the
Democrats' style of government in particular.
Later, as an independent, I continued to fear the Democratic Party; not
just because it was after my money, but because I figured it would
someday drag my son into some foreign war that it didn't intend to win,
making his service an unwarranted sacrifice.
As a Navy wife, I supported our military and half-bought the reason for
the war, but not the use of force to fill the ranks. I was all for
fighting communism, but only if enough young men could be convinced that
a particular war effort was likely to achieve the goal.
My Navy officer friends disagreed with me about the draft, but we all
thought that the war was wasting its human resources by not being fought
with focused determination. The politicians, with unlimited access to
America's young men, didn't feel they had to justify their strategic
decisions or make a logical case to continue the fight: they just
grabbed a few more kids to replace the ones who died in battle.
When the kids were finally organized enough to end the war, the draft
was ended too, and Americans my son's age and younger have never feared
it. This was probably the last thing on their minds when they went to
vote this past Nov. 7.
But then, last Sunday morning, there was Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.,
on TV with Tim Russert, saying he will file legislation next year to
reinstate the military draft.
Rangel's said it before, to make a point -- end the war in Iraq or send
everybody's kids to fight it, not just those who have volunteered for a
military career or the National Guard. But in the past, he was not about
to become the powerful House Ways & Means chairman in a newly Democratic
Democrats started the Vietnam War; Republican Barry Goldwater, a
libertarian-leaning Republican, argued we should fight to win and was
also opposed to the draft. But voters chose Lyndon Johnson instead, and
more American boys died while Defense Secretary McNamara lied. By the
time a Republican -- Nixon -- was elected, there was little choice left
but to cut and run. And many of us at that time promised ourselves:
This time it is the Republicans who have been leading a war, the
argument for which -- to fight terrorism on its own turf -- I also
half-buy. But they, too, seem to be holding back, not fighting with all
our national power in order to win.
My original theory holds: Without a draft, the war can't go on forever.
In order to continue to attract recruits, Washington must support them
100 percent, but must tell the whole truth about our prospects.
Rangel makes one good point, but misses another. If there were to be a
draft, there should be no deferments for college students, or for the
children or grandchildren of congressmen. But he seems to think that
only kids with few opportunities volunteer, instead of appreciating that
our military forces are made up of the best that America has to offer.
I think John McCain is right: We need more of them in Iraq to do the job
right and give the utmost support to those who are already there.
We will need even more if we have to deal with Iran, whose leader has
vowed to destroy Israel, and with the other Islamic terrorists who
threaten us all. I used to wonder what the National Guard was doing in
the Middle East, but then came to understand that this war is meant to
protect us here in America, in a world that is much smaller than it was
during the Vietnam era.
In "World War III," which is what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
calls it, the entire world really is involved; we have already been
attacked on our own soil. As the Islamic threat grows, we may well need
every able-bodied man and woman to stand in defense.
It wouldn't hurt us to do more now to make America stronger in every
way. The danger is real. Time to stop fussing over celebrity weddings
and O.J. Simpson and start spending some free time in political
We must protect our borders, abolish foolish political correctness, get
our budget and national debt under control, work on freeing ourselves
from our dependence on foreign oil, and insist on Americans taking
personal responsibility for their lives. We must teach our children
about our history, our Constitution, and our traditional values.
As Thanksgiving weekend approaches, I am especially grateful to all the
men and women who have fought for freedom over the centuries. It's time
for us all to join them, not via a military draft, but by the way we
live our freedom every day.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem
News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown
Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence [RI] Journal and