I read an article in Harpers or Atl Monthly awhile ago that was essentially arguing for a return of the draft, but for societal, not military reasons. The author pointed out that the military, socio-economically and politically, is quite different from the general population. To wit: more minorities, lower on the economic scale, and much much more conservative politically.
I don’t recall whether the author’s research concluded that conservatives were more likely to serve, or whether military service made one more conservative. I suspect both are true. But I do recall him pointing out that the current military, especially the officer corps, is overwhelmingly of one political party (Republican); and that moreover this has never been the case before.
The author argued that draftee service acted as a societal glue; think of the classic Hollywood war movie with the farm boy, the Brooklyn Italian, the Jew, etc. all in the same foxhole. There was a great deal of reality to that, and it takes little imagination to imagine how military service, even without combat, breeds mutual respect.
Again, our military today isn’t much like that.
I think we’re a long way from the point where the army refuses to obey orders because the commander-in-chief is a ‘liberal pissant draft-dodger,’ And I have a lot of regard for the professionalism of our military. But I think there are obvious dangers to societal cohesion in having some sort of informal division of labor, in which only those of a certain political bent are likelyserve in the military.
Beside all that, I’d consider the benefits of military service to the individuals who serve. Everybody I know who has been in the military, even the ones who hated it, will still tell you (with a little bit of prodding) that they came out better people because of it; more disciplined, more confident, better able to work in teams, etc. I think society would benefit greatly from more people having those skills and expereience.
I’m not sure I support a return to the draft, even a limited kind like the Major suggests above. But I absolutely don’t think it’s a crazy idea.
“It all started with marbles in school…”