Dana Milbank: Restore conscription, restore America

I don’t often agree with Dana Milbank, but he raises some valid points.

A Congressional Quarterly count of the current Congress finds that just 86 of the 435 members of the House are veterans, as are only 17 of 100 senators, which puts the overall rate at 19 percent. This is the lowest percentage of veterans in Congress since World War II, down from a high of 77 percent in 1977-78, according to the American Legion. For the past 21 years, the presidency has been occupied by men who didn’t serve or, in the case of George W. Bush, served in a capacity designed to avoid combat.

It’s no coincidence that this same period has seen the gradual collapse of our ability to govern ourselves: a loss of control over the nation’s debt, legislative stalemate and a disabling partisanship. It’s no coincidence, either, that Americans’ approval of Congress has dropped to just 9 percent, the lowest since Gallup began asking the question 39 years ago.

Because so few serving in politics have worn their country’s uniform, they have collectively forgotten how to put country before party and self-interest. They have forgotten a “cause greater than self,” and they have lost the knowledge of how to make compromises for the good of the country. Without a history of sacrifice and service, they’ve turned politics into war.

8 comments to Dana Milbank: Restore conscription, restore America

  • I disagree. It should be “Deplore conscription–restore America”. Please visit http://www.draftresistance.org for more info on conscription.

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  • Rich

    The notion that service in the military makes one extra qualified for public service or more qualified than someone who hasn’t is a false narrative. I had a desire for public service before I joined the military, not because of it. To say that military service somehow imbues a special quality in and of itself is absurd. Milbank’s comments are ridiculous.

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  • Rich Fraser

    Two words: Allen West.

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  • Duane12

    If I would not have enlisted, I would have been drafted during the Korean War. None the less, the three years in the USAF was one of my three greatest and rewarding experiences of a lifetime; military, marriage, and college.

    I do not regret one minute of my “required” service. I am no “hawk,” but I believe two years of service to one’s country would be highly beneficial to one’s education, character development, maturity, spirituality, and awareness or sensitivity of humanity globally.

    To be succinct, I believe I am a better, not superior, person for the experience than I would have been without it.

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  • nonquixote

    The trouble and problems I see are with today’s military/industrial/wall street/congressional/spy complex basically controlling and directing the voluntary rank and file enlisted military force personnel, to serve and protect only the bottom line of corporate war profiteer CEOs and big investor$. The official tasks being undertaken are demonstrably creating more enemies against the US and are doing nothing to promote peace and understanding nor a better world for any of us in the lower economic caste (here or abroad). And though we citizens respect our veterans, our government is woefully lacking in supporting them after their terms of service. Conscription into the existing framework would be to further crimes against humanity.

    If say, two years of required domestic service in the US, was accompanied by a living wage during the time of that civil service, and followed up with a full expenses paid college tuition at the school of one’s choice (yes institutions of higher learning would be required to accept these young people) we could actually build future value in human capital and would likely build willing commitment from our citizens to our nation, as opposed to our current underfunded schools-to-prison priorities of class separation and disenfranchisement of the under-caste.

    Thanks for the topic posted and opportunity for the discussion.

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  • Charles Kuehn

    Sending young men and women into combat might be a whole lot easier if you’ve never been there yourself, and if your own offspring are well-insulated by class-privilege from having to experience those horrors.

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  • jerry person

    you do not want VETS in congres. look at song bird Mccain the only traitor in the nam war. he gave away all the US secrets he knew. Vets are right wing because the GOP gives them open checkbooks and free bullets.

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