Democrats and the Draft

In one of the most disgraceful campaign tactics of the 2004 election, the Democrats sponsored a meme that if re-elected George W Bush would reinstitute the draft. It was very successful. Bush won the under 30s vote against Gore in 2000, but lost the same demographic to Kerry.

In fact, of course, the only support for the draft is on the left wing of the Democrats. It was Donald Rumsfeld, in his first stint at the Pentagon in '70s who abolished the draft. He remains more committed than ever to modernising the military.

The proposal to reinsitute the draft in the last Congress was sponsored by veteran liberal Congressman, Charlie Rangel. Democrats objected when the Republican leadership in the House allowed it to come to a vote. Although the measure only got two votes in the run-up to the 2004 elections, that does not mean that in a non-election year it would not have considerably greater support among Democrats.

Because the House Democrats (like both parties in the Senate) maintain the absurd seniority rule, it is easy to predict who will be the leading figures in Congress if the Democrats win control in November. Opinion Journal has an excellent run down. Chairing the powerful Ways and Means Committee would be none other than Charlie Rangel.

If the Democrats do take control, how far will plans to restore the draft actually get?

There is no chance of them being implemented. While amazingly reluctant to use his veto, the President would surely veto this measure! And with zero support from Republicans there is no chance of it attaining a veto-proof majority. Indeed, many of the Democrats who voted against in 2004 might do so again, so the Party would probably need a huge majority to get it through at all.

Nonetheless, it is an issue of concern. Perhaps the President should pledge now that if Charlie Rangel reintroduces his draft measure in the next Congress, and if a Democrat Congres passes it, he will veto the legislation.

Turnabout is fair play. Why shouldn't Democrats suffer for supporting the draft in this campaign, when they successfully (and dishonestly) tarred Republicans with that brush in 2004.

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