Instant Postgame: Democrats And The Draft

This article is more than 12 years old.

So, he may have accidentally pulled the pin on a political grenade, but when Democratic candidate Stephen Pagliuca inadvertently declared he's pro-military draft, he threw himself into a rat's nest of conviction and contradiction that has long plagued the Democratic party.

Strictly speaking, the draft is, after all, more democratic than an all-volunteer army. Or, at least, that's what the draft's most recent big name supporters say.

Supporters such as Democratic Congressman, and Korean war veteran, Charles Rangel of New York. There's also Democratic Congressman, and Vietnam war veteran, John Murtha of Pennsylvania. Both men have called the draft a more equitable means of staffing the United States military.

The issue came to a head in the 2004 presidential election. The Iraq war was raging, then-Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, also a Vietnam war veteran, called Donald Rumsfeld's "stop loss" program essentially a "backdoor draft." Soldiers weren't able to exit their service, because not enough new recruits were volunteering in.

Rangel even sponsored a draft bill that was put to the House in October 2004. (Rangel has sponsored such bills before. He has done it since, too.) It went down in flames, 402-2 against the draft. The only supporting votes came from Murtha and Congressman Pete Stark of California.

Which just goes to show Pagliuca's quick lesson in electoral politics today: Democrats put themselves in a pretzel every time they mention the "D" word. Stand by your principles for a more equitable army? Or get pilloried by voters for saying you want to send their children off to war.

This program aired on November 12, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Meghna Chakrabarti Twitter Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.




Listen Live