. . . Thursday April 22, 2004

Draft Dodging

Should we bring back the draft?

That’s a question some in politics and the media want to put back on the table. After all, we are (as we’re constantly reminded) in a war that could last a generation. And so far, the massive majority of Americans have had absolutely nothing asked of them. No one has asked us to sacrifice. No one has asked us to take risks. About the only thing we’ve been told to do is to keep our eyes open for anything that looks suspicious. I doubt any of us will be earning a purple heart or a silver star for performing an occasional glance in the line of duty.

But shouldn’t we be asked to make some sacrifice in a time of war?

While the discussion is interesting and it’s patently unfair that a small number of families must worry, obsess and even mourn while the rest of us go about our normal business, bringing back the draft will never happen.

So lately I’ve been trying to think of an appropriate level of sacrifice that should be demanded of the American people. My first idea was to hit us in our pocketbooks. Why should we be paying less in taxes when our countrymen are fighting a war? We should be paying more. We should have a war tax. We should have adopt a soldier programs. How can one get less for risking his life on behalf of freedom than someone else gets for shooting a ball through a hoop? Wouldn’t public opinion about a war be more valid if we were being asked to foot part of the bill. Yes, you’re in favor of the war, but is it worth say, fifty bucks a week?

But then I thought, no, that’s too much to ask.

So then where should we sacrifice? At least we should be forced to acknowledge that a war is going on and be required to follow along with its ups and downs. Right? So maybe the American public should be targeted where we’ll feel it the most. What I’m about to suggest will sound radical even to the most zealous patriots, but here goes anyway.

As long as we’re in a war, we should restrict America’s TV privileges.

I have a feeling that my initial strategies around this idea were a bit too extreme. I was thinking that anytime we are in a war, all we should be allowed to watch is coverage and analysis of that war and how it is affecting families and friends here at home. And for the kids in the backseat watching DVD movies, zilch.

I’ve since scaled back the program quite a bit (it’s an election year, after all). Here’s the official plan:

Anytime U.S. troops are overseas and in the line of fire (and more of our soldiers than you can count on one hand have been killed during the prior seven days), none of the top twenty television shows will be broadcast. No American Idol. No Everyone Loves Raymond. And certainly no Survivor. Sure you can still have your syndicated reruns and your sports and news. But nothing in the top twenty. And any reality show that is broadcast during these periods must focus exclusively on the lives of those who were killed in action.

Sounds crazy, right? It’s such a seemingly small sacrifice for a society at war. But ask yourself how many Americans after a few months and years (even nights if it’s during sweeps) of living under this system would still be steadfast in their support of, say, the decision to enter into a war like the one in Iraq. Think it would change the poll numbers?

Come on. You know it would.

Now think about just how scary that is.

Perhaps I’m suggesting something that is still too extreme. Maybe we should just send America to its room with no dessert.

Concentration is important!