Politicians keep bringing up "The Draft." Would people even go if conscripted?

My view of the contemporary scene may not be accurate, but it seems to me that if they were to reinstate the draft, a whole lot more people than back in the sixties and seventies would be a whole lot more willing to refuse to go. Even if there were plenty of people still willing to go, the vocality of the opposition, and the difficulty of enforcement, it seems to me, would do serious damage to the nation in various ways.

Do others think this too?

Also, why do politicians keep bringing it up? Who is gaining what by scaring people in this particular fashion?


I, for one, would be willing to go. But a brief straw poll of my friends and coworkers suggests that practically every draft aged male either is in/has been/plans on joining the military, or would rather claim to be gay than join up.

Not too many of the armchair patriots who would join if asked, but would rather not. I suspect in post-Vietnam America, where the draft now seems to be a much larger matter of choice than before, the draft isn’t going to net many others than that group.

I suspect that many of those who say they’d refuse to go might end up changing their mind when faced with the stark realities of serving time in prison or fleeing the nation in order to avoid serving time in either the military or prison. I don’t mean to belittle those who would choose to dodge the draft, it’s just that they have to decide whether the risk of losing life or limb outweighs the certainty having a criminal record, and while that might seem like a no brainer to some there are some serious road blocks for people with past felonious convictions. So I’d go just to avoid going to prison or having a criminal record.


I agree. People talk a big game, til it comes down to 20 years in Leavenworth. :wink:

That being said… I think any fantasies about the draft are just that, fantasies. There is no way a draft gets started. The Democratic Congress wouldn’t consider for a second implementing it. And regardless of what AG the AG thinks, Bush isn’t even close to powerful enough to declare it on his own.

Oh, he could declare it; he can declare anything he likes. Making it actually happen, that’s another matter. Even the Democrats wouldn’t cave in on something that politically suicidal, probably.

As far as the OP goes, I think that most of the people who say they wouldn’t go would go; Americans are rather sheeplike on the whole.

You are willing to give the Democrats far more credit than I am. After all, If Bush orders it, and the Democrats approve it, who with any political power is left to stop it?

The draft is nothing new, I signed up for the Navy so I wouldn’t be drafted into the Army. I liked the idea of having your food and bed handy, It is the all volunteer army that is new. I think nearly all would go, despite what they say now.

I really wonder about the effects of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on a potential draft. There’s far less of a stigma today about being gay than there was back in the 70’s. The government could hardly demand proof of sexuality, could they? If there was (like you say, a highly unlikely) draft, would it have to be accompanied by a reversal of that policy?

The draft is actually attractive for a lot of young men. It sounds adventurous and glamourous and manly, and many have relatives in the military. I’ve known many who thrived during the last draft, whether they were sent over or stayed home. Others of course died, but young men don’t really believe in their own death.

No, enlistment is attractive for a lot of young men.

Those who do not find it attractive, get drafted against their will.

Learn the difference.

I’ve got an uncle in Canada. I’m not fighting Bush’s war. And I wish politicians would stop using males of draft age as pawns, talking about the draft (as Chuck Rangel did).

The draft is political suicide for any party that institutes it to maintain the war in Iraq. The Dems can be spineless wimps, but generally they do it in favor of a perceived need to preserve themeselves. In this case, self-preservation would call for a brave and determined resistance to any attempt to impose the draft.

I’ve generally seen three arguments, more or less, for the draft. They are:

  1. Completely political in nature (see Rangel).
  2. A “kids these days” argument. See it from time to time here in GD with threads that call for some sort of national service along the lines of the systems seen in other countries.
  3. Actual manpower needs. See the comments by Bush’s “war czar” recently.

In my opinion, 1 and 2 are complete bullshit and I automatically dismiss not only the argument but the person making the argument. As for 3, I blame that on being stuck on the ground with a force that isn’t set up for long-term occupation of a hostile country. It’ll take time to fix the damage done to the military after we finally get out of Iraq but a draft won’t help.

I believe that the reason politicians keep bringing up the draft is because they want to force the issue of remaining in Iraq. Those who suggest a draft, I believe, don’t support the war, and they know that a lot more people would be marching in the streets vocalizing opposition to the war if they were being forced to participate. In that sense, I think it’s a hollow threat, designed to get others to acquiesce to their demands to reduce our involvement.

As to participation, I agree with other posters that most people would accept the law of having to fight, simply because they wouldn’t want to go to jail. At 29, I don’t think I’d be of “draft age”. If I was, I’d tell them to go fuck themselves, and would gladly make a huge political stink about being a conscientious objector to the War on Forever.

Which politicians keep bringing up the draft? I know of only 1 (Rangel), and he does that as a political ploy to try and end the war in Iraq.

I think we’d have to scarp it. Too many people would claim to be gay.

In the classic Cecil column, Is the draft forbidden by the 13th Amendment?, Cecil points out that you could argue that a peacetime draft is unconstitutional (“peacetime” as in “Congress has not passed a formal declaration of war”). Almost certainly someone would contest the draft on these grounds.

Note who these ‘politicians’ are and what their political orientation is…and you will rapidly understand what they (think) they are gaining and why they are scaring the people who are their targets.
The draft is a left wing fantasy used as a club to rally their base and (in theory) ignite even more opposition feelings among the center. Its like the Big Lie™…if you keep telling it long enough it become reality because people THINK its real.

As to what people would do in the highly unlikely event that we had another draft, I’d say they would do what they always do. Some would go, some would resist. The military would gain raw numbers at the cost of effectiveness and cohesion. Overall it would be a lose/lose for the military in the long run. It would take too long to implement the policies, draft the shlubs, train them, get them in theater…and they they would suck as soldiers, being unable to do the highly specialized jobs the military requires (even the combat troops). It would ruin morale as well, with a large percentage of young, resentful people filling the ranks…and forming a separate ‘caste’ from the all volunteers/veterans we currently have.

The military doesn’t want it. Afaik Bush et al don’t want it. The Dems who have actually brought it up don’t REALLY want it…they just want to use it like a hammer to frighten the wide eyed crowd.


Why is it every thread that even mentions the possibility of a draft immediately devolves into an argument about “it’s not even realistic to think it might happen”? That’s not the question that was asked in this OP. This thread presumes a draft, and takes it as a given, and then asks how the population would respond. That’s an interesting question. Hashing over for the nine godzillionth time the reasons the draft would never actually happen is not.

A draft is one of the vilest things the state could do. If it were implemented, it would be my duty as a citizen to take up arms against the government.

Like other posts said, big words. Would you take up arms even if there wasn’t any widespread resistance? How would you do that?

As Milgram showed, people are very moralistic and principled until the rubber meets the road, at which point thery tend to go with the flow.