Brian Lehrer is host of "The Brian Lehrer Show," WNYC Radio's daily call-in program, covering politics and life, locally and globally. The show airs weekdays from 10am-noon on WNYC 93.9 FM, AM 820 and wnyc.org.
That's My Issue: Draft Ambivalence
Friday, August 24, 2012
I officially became subject to the draft near the end of the Vietnam War. There was no chance that I would actually wind up on the front lines since I had a high draft lottery number, the war was winding down anyway and the draft was abolished almost as soon as I became eligible.
But it all felt close enough to home that I developed a strong aversion to the government forcing people to go to war if we thought the war was wrong or unnecessary. When the draft was abolished, I was certain that was a good thing.
But in recent years, Congressman Charles Rangel and others have been arguing to reinstate the draft on the theory that Congress cannot make wise decisions about going to war without putting their own kids at risk of sacrificing their lives.
Another reason is that the "all-volunteer" military has become an economic draft, an unfair distributor of risk by race and class. So a new draft makes sense to my notions of fairness, smart decision-making and national unity. But I have a hard time getting too passionate about imposing a draft.
Something about forcing anyone to go to war still feels very wrong, probably an imprint from when I thought it could be me. Oh, and I now have two teenage sons. Draft ambivalence. I consider it an example of life experience shaping political views that may or may not be in the national interest.
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