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The Irony of Selective Services in a Democracy

Landon Stokes, Features Editor

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By Landon Stokes

As a 17-year-old male soon to be out of high school, I’ve started weighing my options in life after I graduate.

There’s a lot of pressure from my parents and counselors in deciding on a career or attending college, but for the most part, I’ve been rather stagnant with making any decisions so far. One option I have no interest in, however, is military service. I’m reminded of this fact when I think of my impending 18th birthday, after which I will be required by law to sign up for the draft, a mandate that I find to be both unnecessary and unwanted.

Not to belittle those who serve, of course; if you believe in laying down your life for your country, then you have every right to do so, and I think that’s great. However, forced enrollment in the military seems like not only an outdated ideology, but one that should have never taken root in the first place. Maybe it’s because I’m a rebellious teen, but there’s no reason to identify military service with patriotism. I love the idea of a country in which individuals are free to think or conduct themselves however they wish as long as they aren’t hurting others, but I also think the most patriotic thing a citizen can do is defy authority in the name of what they deem to be “right.” In my opinion, the draft, and military service in general, is surrounded by a destructive, faux-patriotic culture.

Regardless, the concept of conscription itself is inherently undemocratic. The idea of a country where all citizens are free directly contrasts with forced military service, let alone one that targets individuals who aren’t even old enough to vote yet. Sure, you can declare yourself as a “conscientious objector,” but even if a citizen objects, they are still subject to civilian service in lieu of military service. As a citizen of the United States, you should not be forced in any way to do perform any sort of service for your government.

Of course, there are exceptions like community service for a crime of some sort, but the draft doesn’t select criminals (who should not be subject to forced military service for their actions either). It selects young men barely out of high school or slightly older to participate in a cause they may not support or believe in. This, in its very nature, is undemocratic and a form of indentured servitude supported by the very government that proclaims itself to be the most liberated on earth.

It’s important, however, not to translate my rejection of military service and critical opinion of the United States government to distaste for our whole country. I actually love America, but I love the America where citizens are truly free, not tools for the military to use when the government pokes its nose into foreign affairs. Plus, I would hope that a military with an almost $600 billion budget could take care of itself without needing to conscript citizens.

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The Irony of Selective Services in a Democracy