The United States needs to institute a military draft. Many countries around the world require some sort of military service of all its' citizens, and it's about time we do, as well. While this may be an unpopular position, it is the best option to force Americans into societal participation. This effect on the general population is worth the sacrifice of mandatory military service. It would help to restore the principles upon which America was founded.
Our republic was established on the ideology that the general population has the definitive power to select leaders who will govern for the betterment of the nation. The core of the principles of democracy centers on participation of the citizenry in the decision-making process. This is accomplished through the election process. When populace is unhappy with the current state of affairs, it has the option of voting for leaders they think could make things better.
Unfortunately, our democracy has metamorphosized into something quite different, and a military draft may just help to change things for the better.
On September 11, 2001, we were attacked in a horrible way by an enemy many didn't even know existed. In the immediate aftermath, nationalism ran at a fever pitch. People from all walks of life; men and women, old and young, black and white, were willing to volunteer to contribute to the cause of response to the provocation initiated by this new enemy. Consequentially, the war in Afghanistan was met with praise as a proper response to the attacks. Patriotism was everywhere, as was the notion of supporting the troops. We were united as Americans in a way not seen since World War II.
The decisions made by our leaders in the ensuing period failed to capitalize on this state of mind for the betterment of the nation. Instead, all of that nationalism was squandered. Rather than being asked to pitch in, we were told to go about our lives and let the government handle it. "Go shopping", the President told us, and many did what they were told. Slowly, but surely, those feelings of patriotism faded.
In the subsequent months and years, the "War on Terror" became a tool used to paralyze the nation into fear, as our leaders sought to exploit the state of affairs for their own gain. The War in Iraq was the initial step in this master plan. Eventually, with the shock and awe turning into a quagmire, mass apathy began to take hold of the populace. People distanced themselves more and more from the horrors of the situation.
Fright initially persuaded many to go along with the war at first. Instead of trying to calm these feelings of fear, our leaders chose to use it as a tool to subjugate the population into mass lethargy. Our participative mission in this "Global" war was to run to the local convenience store and buy a "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker. This would make us all feel better about ourselves, but did nothing for the benefit of the nation or the troops.
Who supports the troops, really? In a way, we all do. We want them to be safe in whatever they're doing as they represent us in the world. The pertinent question herein is: How many of us take the time to monitor the decisions that steer our policies and actions? The population has become seemingly unable or even unworthy to participate in the democracy. Genuine supporters of the troops are those with direct or indirect connections to someone who serves in the military. They're the people most likely to pay attention to government policy. They experience the very real connection between the actions of government and real lives.
A military draft surely would be unpopular. Few politicians have dared to bring it up. Charles Rangel, a congressman from New York brought up the notion on more than one occasion and was subjected to ridicule from fellow members of Congress, and many in the political punditry machine that plagues our airwaves. Leaders have become fearful to support draft legislation for fear of losing their seats. Getting reelected seems more important than doing the right thing. Making unpopular decisions is the sign of a true leader, as long as they benefit the country. This debate, though, is a topic for another conversation.
Enacting conscription is a tough decision to make, there is no doubt. However, it's an important choice that will help to clear a path back towards the true democracy that our forefathers envisioned. It would cause people to care again, to become mindful of the actions that affect both the nation and its citizens. Sometimes, we all need to be forced to take some much needed ownership of our country's actions in the world, to take time out of our busy lives to pay attention, and to hold accountable those who decide for us.