There is a good bit of chatter this morning about the question posed to Marco Rubio (and then several other candidates) as to whether registering for the draft should be something required of our 18 year old daughters as well as our sons. Apparently, much of conservative-world doesn't like the idea. My question however is, what would you have them say?
For much of the past ten years, most military occupations were open to women. In the Obama Administration, every single job has been opened. There are of course, official pronouncements of standards being protected, but just as predictable are the "studies" that attend this conversation with findings that the standards are somehow misaligned with the needs of the modern battlefield, etc. etc.
So...we have a military in which all jobs are open to both men and women. It is an all-volunteer force, but it is a gender neutral all volunteer force, primarily as a result of the pressure of interest groups to knock down barriers. Ok. They won. The barriers are gone.
So now what? We have a selective service system that enables a draft. It is not itself, a draft. It is a way of keeping track of those people eligible to serve in the military in time of great national emergency. As bad as things are, we are not now in a great national emergency. But if such a time comes--why wouldn't women be required to serve? Just because someone might not WANT to serve is insufficient reason to exclude them.
In order for a candidate to be consistent on the issue, he would have had to say "I think we have made a grave mistake in opening the combat arms to women. I think that the national security of the United States is diminished by this act. We should reverse it and return to the status quo ante, with women excluded from the combat arms." And while this may be an attractive proposition to some conservatives, it is electoral death. You simply cannot--as a political matter--put the toothpaste back in the tube without coming off as decidedly "anti-woman".
All of the candidates need to work on their answer to this question. They need to reassure Americans that the draft is a sign of intense trouble, and that we would all need to do our part--while simultaneously using the opportunity to reinforce the importance of the all volunteer force AND our great obligation to provide it with the best training and equipment in the world. Then, move on.