Earlier this year I asked the question: Will women have to register for the draft in 2021? That day may soon be coming.
Although the draft ended in 1973, the federal government continued to prosecute “draft dodgers” even after the Vietnam War ended. In 1975, President Gerald Ford eliminated the requirement that 18 to 25 year-old male citizens register with the Selective Service System.
During his campaign for president in 1976, Jimmy Carter promised to pardon those who evaded the draft. On January 21, 1977, President Carter made good on his promise and granted an unconditional pardon to hundreds of thousands of young men who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War. Yet, in 1980, Carter reinstated the requirement that men must register with the Selective Service System.
In its final report, issued in 2020, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS) recommended that Congress amend the Military Selective Service Act to require that young women, like young men, register for the draft when they reach 18 years of age.
Back in July, the Senate Armed Services Committee, with 5 Republican no votes, approved an amendment to the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require “all Americans” (not just men) to register with the Selective Service System. The final approval of the NDAA was by a vote of 23-3.
Now, the House Armed Services Committee, which contains 31 Democrats and 28 Republicans, has voted 35-24 on an amendment to the NDAA (5 Republicans voted with the Democrats: Jack Bergman, Liz Cheney, Pat Fallon, Scott Franklin, Mike Waltz) to include women as well. The NDAA then cleared the committee in a 57-2 vote.
Texas Republican Chip Roy blasted both parties for the recent committee vote, and tweeted that its supporters can “go straight to hell.” Roy said that he would rather see the draft abolished than see women forced to participate: “Abolish the draft if you want. But under no circumstances will you draft our wives and daughters. Total, complete, bullshit.”
Many other conservatives share his outrage. But conservative outrage over the possible drafting of women obscures the real issue.
There is one thing, and only one thing, that the draft is good for: giving governments a supply of cannon fodder to fight unjust wars.
Waging war in the actual defense of ones country, home, property, and family does not require conscription. If the United States were actually attacked; that is, if foreign soldiers actually landed on east or west coast beaches or crossed the northern or southern borders, the government wouldn’t have to conscript anyone. Americans would get their guns and flock to the coasts or borders and start shooting before the government or the military did anything.
Conscription is a form of slavery, regardless of what the Supreme Court says. No young man or woman should ever be drafted.
If young men and women want to enlist in the military, travel the world, meet interesting people, and then bomb, maim, and kill them for Uncle Sam, that is bad enough. But the government should never force any American to do so.
A heroic group of just 4 Democratic and Republican senators and representatives, including Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), has sent a letter to House Armed Services leaders calling for an end to the Selective Service System because it is “expensive, wasteful, outdated, punitive, and unnecessary.” The small group of lawmakers also recently introduced the Selective Service Repeal Act. That is 4 out of 525 members of Congress.
Conscription is abhorrent to a free society. As Senator Paul’s father—former congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul—has well said: “A government that is willing to enslave some of its people can never be trusted to protect the liberties of its own citizens.”