Edwards, the Draft, and the Middle Class

I agree with Kos that Edwards’ recent promise of Dems Win, No Draft is a smart move. It’s a clear way to differentiate K/E’s handling of Iraq from Bush’s, since Republican congresscritters will push a draft as soon as Rove gives them a phone call, probably about five minutes after the inauguration speech.

We won’t need a draft under President Kerry, because he’ll bring everybody else back to the table on Iraq to help us, he’ll bring our troops home by the end of his first term, and though that won’t fix the FUBAR’d Republic, it’ll get us out of the shitstorm. Cynical or not, that’s all it’ll take to satisfy most people. As far as I can see, that’s K/E’s plan for Iraq, and it’s a better one than the loud sound of crickets chirping that Bush has the nerve to call a strategy.

But I have to respectfully disagree with the assertion, by Kos and others, that a draft will somehow make the middle and upper class voters less likely to tolerate wars of choice. Those who wanted to find ways out of Vietnam found ways out, even if it was just scraping together a few hundred bucks and running for border, as was my parents’ plan if my dad had been called up, and they were far from wealthy.

We’ll never again see the days of entire baseball teams emptying out to go into the military. Sure, there are exceptions, like Pat Tillman’s abandonment of his football career for the battlefield. But overall? I don’t see Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson volunteering their services to keep pace with the fans who are leaving for war. I see whole new categories of deferments, pushed by the wealthy through their congressmen. I see anybody with any money at all using that money to get their kids out any way they can. Not that I would blame them.

Maybe I’m just being terribly cynical, but after the last war, I don’t have a lot of faith in the discerning wisdom of a lot of people. An equitable draft wouldn’t make us think twice about going to war. It would just make us think twice as hard about how to get OUR kid, our friend, our husband or son or brother, out of harm’s way.