Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is back in the spotlight. At his disposal is a Democrat-led Congress, a future seat as the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a very controversial idea: Bring back the draft.
This is actually the second time Rangel has advocated a measure to reinstate conscription. The first time he did so was in 2003, when the bill didn’t have a shot – Republicans led Congress, and Donald Rumsfeld was secretary of defense. Rumsfeld told Congress in 2005, “There isn’t a chance in the world that the draft will be brought back.”
There still isn’t a chance, but the idea might be given more attention now.
After all, Democrats won on Nov. 7, but they didn’t really win. Most Democrats ran under the guise of Republicans: socially conservative, generally mute about their liberal economic policies and always with their eyes on what they saw as Republican failures in Iraq – that is, when they weren’t pointing out the ethics scandals that occurred in the Congress under the Republicans’ watch.
Now that the Democrats are in power, they are going to try to prove they aren’t totally inept at handling national security. If Rangel is any indication, however, they are going to make the same mistake the Republicans made – catering to their political party’s fringe movements instead of their base. If the Democrats did want to focus on their base, they might be surprised to find there are many on their side of the aisle who don’t disagree with the war on terror very much, once the question excludes Iraq.
Rangel’s reasons for his ridiculous proposition are what one would expect: He thinks the military is composed of poor kids with no options. He assumes that they had no choices and were almost forced into the military themselves. He essentially accuses Republicans of toying with the lives of the poor, oppressed victims who are known as America’s military. It probably never occurred to Rangel that the people who fight for this country have many options in their lives and choose to do it anyway.
If the Democrats want a shot at the presidency and more power in 2008, they should remember that their recent victory was despite – not because of – insulting ideas such as the one Rangel has proposed twice now.