Dana Milbank considers several of the steps that we might take to improve our government and our society. Few of them are politically possible, so he turns to an alternative. He explains why restoring the draft might be helpful. The draft would require people, who seldom have an opportunity to meet and understand each other, to work together for a common purpose. It would also make our leaders less likely to engage in wars without purpose if their own children and grandchildren would be put at risk. He used Switzerland as an example of a country whose citizens speak four languages, and is not at risk of attack, which uses mandatory service as a way to build a national identity in a diverse nation. Richard Nixon ended the draft during the unpopular Vietnam war. The war protest movement was led by college students who did not want to be forced into fighting a war in which they did not believe. Many of their parents agreed with them. Ending the draft took much of the energy out of the protest movement.
I'm not sure that restoring the draft would save our country but its discouraging to have a veteran reporter from the Washington Post, who understands how Washington works, offer a restoration of the draft as a last resort to develop a sense of a common identity and a national purpose. Reporting in Washington must be like reporting in a war zone. The reporters are not at risk, but they sense the futility of the battles between the political parties that are seldom guided by a sense of national purpose.
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