Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The draft and citizenship
Rep. Charles Rangel is serious about having a draft to force mandatory military service on all Americans. I believe this point to an underlying question of what citizenship means in the USA. Should full citizenship be bestowed to those who are born Americans or naturalized simply because they are born or naturalized Americans? An interesting concept that you will see popping up is the idea that full citizenship should be earned instead of being bestowed automatically. In this concept, there could be two tiers of Americans. There are those who are born or naturalized Americans, and there are those who have earned full citizenship through military service. The key difference between the partial and full citizenship is the ability to vote. Any American could run for office, etc., but only Americans who have served in our military can vote because they have taken on the responsibility in defending our freedom so would best understand what is stake in voting and appreciate it more. This does create a divide, but it could be argued that a divide already exists between those who take our freedoms for granted and those who actually fight for it. I find it a more appealing alternative to Rangel's idea of compulsory military service because being forced to serve doesn't mean you accept the responsibilities of being a citizen.