In a free society, should the government be able to make individuals go off to war and face the possibility of dying? Unfortunately, the government has done this with something we call the “draft.”
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Connor: So today I wanna talk about something that always makes me so mad, so mad. And that is this idea of the draft. what is the draft? It’s not when you open a window and you know a breeze comes wafting in pleasantly and so forth. No, the draft, this draft is what’s called forced conscription. it’s, you know, that’s the big term for it. The draft is when the government says, you know what, we have a standing army, which is its own subject. The founding fathers, many of them really opposed a standing army, which is like a professional military. A lot of them, most of them believe that it was better to have kind of a citizenry or just citizens who could rise up and defend their country at any time. Granted, this was, you know, before the days of, you know, nuclear bombs and fighter jets and all that kind of stuff. But still, the arguments apply that when you have a standing army, it’s like when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you heard that quote before, Brittany. Yes. Right. If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you’re a standing army, then everything looks like a conflict you need to get involved in because we have work to do. And, so it leads to more war. That’s the idea. Well, a draft is this idea that the government says, you know, there’s a really big war or a problem, then we need to make sure that we’re gonna be able to have enough ponds. Oh, excuse me, soldiers, who, and look, I have many friends who are in the military. This is not to say that all people in the military are, you know, bad or like, no. If anything, like, unfortunately, many of my friends who are in the military are paws. They have moved around. Yeah. You know, and sent into battle that I think is wrong and we shouldn’t be fighting. And their lives are put in jeopardy for these politicians and these, you know, leaders at the top who are putting them into harm’s way problematically. So in that sense that pons is not an attack on the soldiers and attacked on the politicians and the leaders at the top who are, you know, getting involved in too many conflicts and too many wars. But even then the leaders of the military might be like, oh, we need more war. We need more soldiers. We need more people to fight and go invade this country or fight this, you know, other government or whatever. So the draft is where they say, you know what? We want to be able to force people to join the military if we ever need them. Cuz a lot of people sign up. a lot of them are enticed by financial benefits to join the military.
Brittany: which is also sad.
Connor: Right? Yeah. And a lot of that, for a lot of people, it’s a financial decision. It’s, oh, I get this signing bonus and I get free college and I get, you know, whatever. And there’s different perks. But, you know, there’s a lot of people who sign up cuz they feel that it’s the right thing to do. Or maybe their dad and their grandfather and their great-grandfather all did it. So there’s many reasons why people join the military, but if there’s a big conflict, the leaders of the military might say, we need more people. So the draft is where the government could say, oh, you know, Connor, we randomly picked you in this draft. They have like everyone on a big list, a big database. And they randomly go through and they kind of pick people out and they say, oh, okay. We get to, you know, pull you into the military and make you become a soldier. And so it’s a way for them to compel individuals to serve in the military. And the history of the draft started, in America, it’s in lots of different countries. This is not just an American thing, but in the United States, it started with the war between the states or what a lot of people call the Civil War. wasn’t very civil.
Brittany: Counter getting spicy. Yeah.
Connor: A war between the states. And so, you know, people were not happy. I mean, there were riots, as I said, this goes on in other country. I mean, thousands of years. You know, ancient countries have had drafts and they compel their, you know, citizens to join the military. The first modern draft happened during the French Revolution, which was in seven nine, 1790. so in America, Brittany, do you know, which president created or signed into law the first draft? I’ll do a little pop quiz for you.
Brittany: Yeah. It was Woodrow Wilson. Yep. Was that right? Yeah. Okay. And that was in 1917, which, you know, episodes ago we talked about World War I, so you’ll notice that’s right about that time. So it was called the Selective Service Act. So that was 1917.
Connor: That’s the name of the law that they passed.
Brittany: That’s the name of the law. Yes. And it required all men between the ages. And I want you to remember the men part, cause I’m gonna get into something that makes me real mad later on, between the ages of 21 and 30 to register. And this always makes me mad because the older people and I understand why they were exempt, but these are the people who were having kids and raising kids, especially back then when people were having kids younger. So you’re sending dads, you’re sending dads off. Yep. So November 1918, oh, by that time there was roughly 24 million men who had registered and 2.8 million were drafted into the Armed Forces or the Army. And the draft, though at this point it was actually dissolved after the war which again, we do not support any form of the draft, but at least they said like, okay, it’s over. We’re gonna take it off the books now. But unfortunately, that did not last long. So World War I leads to World War II and as that gets, you know, ramped up in September 1940, Congress passed what was called the Burke Wadsworth Act. And that imposed the first peacetime draft in US history. And that’s really scary to me cuz that means even if there is nothing going on, and at this time we were not yet involved in, World War II, we were about to be, but we’re not. So this meant that even during peace times, you had to sign up even when there wasn’t a war going on. And that terrifies me. And to back up a little bit, just to talk about it, people were not fans of this like you Connor, during the Civil War, there were all these riots and there was actually one that, that I wanted to mention, I forgot about it earlier, is the New York draft riots. And this was to go back to civil war stuff. 119 people died because people were so mad that they were being forced to do this. And a lot of them were immigrants who were already being treated rather poorly. But this spirit to really fight back against the draft continues. So we had that civil war I was talking about, and then I told you, of course, World War I, World War II, well that brings us now to the Vietnam War. And this, when I think of like anti-graft or like the movement to stop the draft, I always think of the Vietnam War, right? And that’s partially because it was a widely unpopular war. I mean, this was probably, all wars are terrible, but this was probably the one where the public was most outraged because nobody could understand why we were there. It wasn’t even our enemy, right? It was, we’re going to fight for someone else’s enemy and they don’t even want us there, but we’re gonna do it anyway. So by 1967, the casualties and casualties mean people who are hurt or people who are wounded. The casualties in Vietnam, there was 15,500 or f sorry, 15,058 people were killed and 109,000 ish wounded. So tons of young men were being sent off to die for what they call national interests. But nobody really knows what that means. That’s a term. In fact, if you ever hear the government talk about protecting its national interests, be scared because they never tell us what that means. We’re just supposed to know. They’re like, okay, national interest, let’s do it. Right. So this is really interesting cuz this gave rise to the hippie movement. You know, you see those old movies and it’s like peace and love. That’s what made this whole thing happen. And like the first anti-war movements also. So people who tried to avoid the draft at this time, they ran away to Canada and they were called Draft Dodgers, which was a crime. Like at tho at that point, they were later pardoned. But I mean, people were getting, I don’t know that it was a felony, but you had to pay fines. You could spend time in jail. Like, people did not want you to get away from being drafted into the military.
Connor: Well, you were, I mean, think of it, the people who were drafted felt like, well that’s not fair. You know, I got drafted. So they should have to as well. I remember, this is kind of a tangent, but, in Utah where Libertas Institute works, we worked on a law that deals with something called occupational licensure. we’ve talked about this before, where the government says you need to get a permission slip to do your job. And in this case, it was dealing with people who cut hair and style hair. And after we pa we got the law changed so that, the permission slip that you needed was easier to get. Right. So we reduced the number of hours that you had to go to school and we tried to make the burden a lot less and we succeeded. So a week later, I’m getting my haircut and I was asking the gal cutting my hair, Hey, did you hear about this new change in the law? And she got kind of upset. She’s like, oh yeah, that’s ridiculous. I was like, oh really? Like, tell me why. And she said, well, I had to go to 2000 hours of school, so other people should too. And I was like, oh my gosh, that’s so interesting, right? This idea that because the government made me do this, you know, other people should be forced to do it too. And that’s what you see with the draft. A lot of these draft dodgers that fled to Canada and elsewhere, you had people who were being drafted naturally perhaps feeling like, well, wait a minute. That’s like, that’s not fair that they get away with it. They should be punished. And it’s like, oh, if you hate the draft and you don’t wanna do it, why do you wish Ill will on other people? And the other thing that strikes me so interesting too, Brittany, is you pointed out how this kind of gave rise to the anti-war movement and so forth. Is that in a just war, in a war that makes sense? I don’t think it’s that difficult to get people to sign up to fight. In other words, if America is being attacked, let’s say China invades, okay, and China comes to war and they send boatloads of soldiers over to march through the streets and try and kill people, and they’ve got fighter planes, and submarines and everything else, and they try and do an all-out war, I don’t think it’s gonna be that hard to get people to want to defend their home, to defend their families. I think it would be kind of like, you know, earlier wars, certainly the revolution. Yeah. Right. Where, you know, you have British red coats in our communities harassing you and fading your home, you know, stealing your stuff, killing people, and so forth. So the problem with the draft is that it’s a way for the government to get away with unjust war. Right? And so if they’re getting involved, as you said, for national interests, whatever that means.
Brittany: Whatever that means.
Connor: We’re in Vietnam and we’re in Iraq and we’re in Yemen and we’re in all these countries getting up in people’s business that has nothing to do with defending our homes, then, you know, then you have to entice these soldiers to sign up with financial benefits and perks and you have to pressure people or make it seem like it’s a patriotic thing to do. Or sometimes you need a draft so that you can compel people to do it. And all of that is really like a bandaid on top of the real, like a festering wound, which is an unjust war. These are you know, fights that should not be happening. So yes, you had people dodging the draft, but there’s also a little loophole called being what’s called a conscientious objector. that’s a big word. What it really means.
Brittany: That’s a big word.
Connor: What it means is people who have like a sincere belief in religious teaching, for example, along with a really strong moral objection to war. In other words, someone whose religion and personal faith and belief prevents them from being in the military. So I’m thinking of, you know, most people might think of like the Amish or something like that. People who, or hippies, or the hippies, although that wasn’t really religious perhaps.
Brittany: No, but a lot of ’em tried to use it.
Connor: Or I think of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yes. Yeah. I, remember you know, Jehovah’s Witnesses, you know, refuse to serve in the military and pledge allegiance to flags. They think these things are idolatrous. And so, you know, there are people who have these deep moral or religious convictions who want to be, exempted from this. And, you know, so the problem is sometimes that’s very hard. The government doesn’t want to have a big loophole that anyone can be like, oh, sorry, my religion, you know, is I’m a Christian and it says, you know, to be peaceful and to, you know, not kill and, and so forth. And so the problem is the government has this little loophole in place, but it’s very difficult for people to successfully claim that they are conscientious objectors. Another way that people got around it, and this has been interesting, Brittany, you’ve seen this in like presidential debates with like Mitt Romney and other people where they deferred the draft. What that means is they kind of delayed it or postponed it. Oh, I’m in college, right? There were different reasons where people could kind of delay. Yeah. The draft, if they were on a church service mission, for example, or if you were in college, you, if you were selected for the draft, you could kind of postpone so that you’d have some people in, you know, college or as a missionary or whatever, and they would just defer and defer and defer. So then decades later you have these politicians who are like, oh, well I served in World War II and that candidate over there, he was a coward, he, you know, deferred and you know, wouldn’t be drafted. And it’s like, look if you wanna sign up and you think that’s the right thing to do, that’s a voluntary thing. Great. But don’t pretend like being compelled to be drafted into the military is some kind of great thing. And yet people claim that it is.
Brittany: No, it is. And one thing, so the draft is not, you still have to register when you turn 18. If, you’re a boy or a man. But that hasn’t been instituted. They haven’t like set it up. So Afghanistan, a lot of people actually wanted to go because, you know, they saw nine 11 happen, but they didn’t use the draft. Now here’s what scares me. There’s this new wave of equality and you know, I 100% believe every individual should be treated equally, which is why I have issues with modern-day feminism cuz they have that distorted view of what equality means. And a lot of them think that if we all wanna be equal, women should now be included in the draft. And I wanna make it very clear because I said I believe in equality for all. I don’t believe that anybody should be entered into the draft. But here you have now it’s being req like it’s the people are saying it’s discrimination to not let women sign up for this. And my thing is, why do we even have this anymore? First of all? And second of all, you know, Connor, I’m sure you don’t like the idea of your daughter being forced to go fight a war or your son may. No, you don’t want any of your kids doing that. So that’s something that really scares me because one thing is why are we still talking about the draft? Why is the conversation about having women sign up? Maybe the conversation should be let’s get rid of it. And you have people like the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, which used to be a great organization that defended constitutional rights even when they were unpopular. And now they’re saying, you know, we’re, you know, the government should get it right and let women go die for national interests. So, that’s really scary to me. So the draft still continues to be something that’s discussed.
Connor: Yeah. Rather than making the draft like gender neutral and forcing women to sign up, we’re going in the wrong direction. Yeah. We should be getting rid of it. We should not be continuing it. And, oh, It’s just so messed up. The idea that the government should be able to wage, literally it is like pawns on a chess game. Like, oh, we’re gonna go battle that king over there and I need to conscript, you know, these soldiers to do my bidding. And it’s just such a problem because again, like if it was a moral and just reason to fight and truly defend our homes and our families, there would be no shortage of people signing up to do it. Literally. Like you wouldn’t, there would be zero need for a draft. It’s only because the government wants to go out and do silly shenanigans and get involved in other people’s business. So it’s a big, big problem. we need to get away from the draft, we need to, you know, I don’t know, maybe evade, the requirement to sign up at all for 18-year-olds. I know a number of people who just try and avoid that and don’t comply with that law to sign up in the first place. Obviously, that comes with consequences. You should kind of consider that on your own. But this is a topic obviously, I think for you too, Brittany, that gets me really riled up. Cause I think it’s a big problem. So thanks for indulging us everyone, and hopefully we’ve had some productive conversation today. Brittany, thank you as always. And until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.