On the floor of the House today, Democratic congressman Charlie Rangel once more offered his support for a mandatory draft as a way of ensuring the military doesn’t draw overwhelmingly from the lower-earning echelons of American society.
Though the United States has had an all-voluntary military since the Vietnam war, Rangel believes that, at least in some cases, the decision to join the military is not freely made, and that socioeconomic conditions drive poor people disproportionately toward the armed forces.
Responding to Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s remarks applauding the efforts of American troops to protect Afghan civilians, Rangel sympathized with Kinzinger’s message but cautioned that all Americans should bear the burden of military intervention.
“If America is going to take this position, all Americans should be prepared to make the sacrifices as the gentleman before me has. It’s abundantly clear that everybody does not assume the same sacrifices, whether we’re talking about taxes or loss of life,” Rangel said.
“I submit that we have to have a draft … not a plea for those people who for economic reasons have to protect themselves,” he added.
Rangel offered a personal footnote to his plea for compulsory military service, recounting how he volunteered for the military prior to the Korean War, and how his brother signed on just before World War II.
“I would like to walk away saying how patriotic we both were, but really what motivated me was the excitement my mother would get in receiving a check for my older brother,” Rangel said.