Andrew Cline writing for the American Spectator:
Rangel has pushed for a draft for the past three years. He argues that the government would not start wars if the sons of the elites who decide such things were at risk of being deployed to fight the wars the elites start.The only problem with that thesis is that it has no basis whatsoever in reality. The United States had a draft from 1948 to 1973. We still went to Korea and (ahem) Vietnam. Rangel also has no idea who is actually in our military. He claims it’s the poor and unprivileged. (In other words, if you don’t study in school so you’ll have good career options, you’ll get stuck in Iraq.)
But the military today is not the military of the Civil War or even Vietnam. It is more educated and affluent than ever before. A report by Heritage Foundation researcher Tim Kane, released just before the election, found that “the average reading level of new soldiers is roughly a full grade level higher than their civilian peers” and that the high school graduation rate for enlistees was 17 percentage points higher than the rate for the civilian population.
The military is also not just a bunch of poor boys with no other options. “The wealthiest 40 percent of neighborhoods in America are the home of 45.6 percent of 2005 enlistees,” Kane found. “For every two U.S. recruits from the poorest neighborhoods, three come from the richest.”
So how is Rangel’s idea going over in poor neighborhoods?
“What, he was smoking pot or something?” 58-year-old James Brown of Harlem, one of Rangel’s own constituents, asked a New York Daily News reporter when asked for comment on Rangel’s plan.
Another Rangel constituent, 48-year-old Neil Davis, said Rangel “doesn’t represent the people of Harlem if he’s for the draft.”
UPDATE: Former Marine Corps Major Brian Bresnahan counters Rangel’s claims that the military is full of poor enlistees who have no other options:
I know our battalion of reserve Marines in Iraq was full of folks who took a pay cut when they were mobilized. In fact, the discrepancy in pay was so great for some of our enlisted Marines it created hardships for their families. We had Marines with graduate degrees and high level management positions in Fortune 500 companies.
There were enlisted Marines I served alongside who put lucrative computer programming jobs or the pursuit of a law degree on hold. Our battalion surgeon volunteered for the Navy Reserve to serve. He is one of the very few pediatric heart surgeons in the United States; certainly not a man without choices in life.
The angry parents and spouses of service members flooded some of the radio talk shows Monday with the stories of why their husband, wife, son, or daughter gave up scholarships, high paying jobs, or other opportunities to go fight.
So, Congressman Rangel simply made an incorrect scientific hypothesis. Honest mistake, right?
Wrong. The full measure of his outlook was unveiled when he expanded his argument about the troops and their deficiencies with respect to the rest of society. The truth is he doesn’t think much of us. In the end, his position and comments weren’t what anyone could call “supportive.”