Draft Dodgers

First off: JUSIPER rocks. They had a ton of great links. I'm only gonna steal one and it wasn't even my favorite. Go there already. Back to the story...

Ed Gillespie, Chairman of the RNC, told the President of the Rock The Vote foundation to shut up already on the draft issue. He cites the fact that the President himself has "debunked" the draft as an "urban myth" as reason enough to end the discussion. Well, the guys at Rock the Vote didn't take to kindly to being bossed around, so they decided to write back:

Dear Chairman Gillespie,

The letter I received from you yesterday was quite a surprise. It struck us as just the sort of "malicious political deception" that is likely to increase voter cynicism and decrease the youth vote. In fact, it is a textbook case of attempted censorship, very much in line with those that triggered our organization's founding some fifteen years ago.

I am stunned that you would say that the issue of the military draft is an "urban myth"that has been "thoroughly debunked by no less than the President of the United States."

I have some news for you. Just because President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld, and for that matter Senator Kerry, say that there is not going to be a draft does not make it so. Just because Congress holds a transparently phony vote against the draft does not mean there isn't going to be one. Anyone who thinks that the youth of America are going to take a politician's word on this topic is living on another planet.

By your logic, there should be no debate about anything that you disagree with. There's a place for that kind of sentiment (and your threats), but its not here in our country.

There are questions that the politicians are running away from. How long can we keep 138,000 U.S. troops or more on the ground in Iraq? What if full-scale civil war erupts there, as the CIA has warned is a realistic possibility? Would the next President be faced with a choice of pulling out of Iraq rather than institute a draft? Would women be drafted? What exactly would the draft-age be?

According to the Pentagon's own internal assessment, there are "inadequate total numbers" of troops to meet U.S. security interests. The current issue of Time magazine reports that, "General John Keane, who retired last year as the Army's No. 2 officer, says the continued success of the all-volunteer military is not guaranteed" Keane has told Congress that adding more than 50,000 troops to the Army would require thinking about a return to the draft."

But you want young people to believe that the draft is just an "urban myth." I was expecting that you were going to present some facts to back up your assertion. But, instead, you have demanded that we stop talking about it.

Although the draft may not be a discussion topic for someone of your age, we have found that young people - Republicans, Democrats and Independents - are very interested in this issue. We believe in the capacity of young Americans to make their own judgments when fairly presented with the facts. That is why we are actively promoting an informed, educated dialogue. I urge you to review the "Debunking the Myths" section on our website where we address misperceptions about the draft.

Mr. Gillespie, this is a generational issue. Nothing cuts closer to the core of the very reason Rock the Vote exists. We think young people deserve to know where the politicians stand on this issue - and that a generation that could be called to service deserves more than the phony debate they are getting. We believe that it is only by asking questions - not by censoring debate - that our democracy can remain strong and vital.

Issues such as jobs, health care, Iraq, taxes, and education have energized the electorate, and the draft issue deserves the same serious treatment and candor. Blanket denials do not square with the facts and do not level with the electorate.

As far as the possibility that Rock the Vote's efforts might "decrease the youth vote," we are feeling very confident at this point that the opposite is true. More than 1.1 million people have used our website to fill out voter registration forms this election cycle. Our street teams and ground partners have registered hundreds of thousands more. Young voters are going to surge at the polls on Election Day and make the difference for whichever candidate does the best job reaching out to them.

Despite the strong and often strident tone of your letter, I would hope that we could both agree that honest and open debate is the surest guarantor of our democracy and liberty.


Jehmu S. Greene

Perhaps the only thing better would have been if they'd sent a copy of Tim Ryan's speech to go along with it! Really, the Rock the Vote guys are only keeping discussion going and this adminstration has proven time and again that they can't be trusted. Ever. In fact, neither can any politician, honestly, because they're all likely to have a change of mind, and who is to stop them?

Anyway, hit up JUSIPER, as if he needs the traffic, as he's also got GREAT links on the "lesbogate" scandal Lynne Cheney has tried to start. Too bad she's too much of a hypocrit to be taken seriously. Just because she can't handle her daughter's lifestyle doesn't mean she has to take it out on the rest of us.
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