September 20th, 2008
03:48 PM ET
14 years ago

Across from a farmer’s market, feeling a draft

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Howard Forsythe."]
ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS: Cambridge, OH (CNN) - There was a farmer’s market under way on the courthouse square as we pulled into town, and across the street Howard Forsythe, 73, was walking into the bank to take care of some personal business.

We talked for a few minutes about the first presidential debate next week, and he said that if he were somehow allowed to ask the candidates one question, it would be this:
“What are you going to do about the fact that we’re going to have to initiate a military draft again?”
He said that it’s the one subject politicians are afraid to touch–  and he believes that most government leaders in Washington realize a draft is inevitable, but refuse to admit it to voters.
"Our military is so stripped right now," he said.  "Families are being torn apart, soldiers are being sent for two and three tours of duty, and no one will say out loud what they know in their hearts– that the draft is coming back."
He said he wished he could come along with us to Mississippi for the debate next week, and somehow, despite the event’s rules, be allowed to ask the question.
“I know what the answer from both of them would be,” he said.  “They’d say they think we can do all right without a draft.  But a draft is the only solution, and I’d like to look in their eyes as they pretended that it isn’t.”

Filed under: Bob Greene • Election Express
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. BK

    Obama's answer would be 'present' as usual.

    September 20, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. S. Boatman

    Under A Mccain Presidency The Draft Will Come Back For Sure! Even With The Best Military In The World We Are Stretched Very Thin Fighting Two Wars! We Need More Diplomacy And Less Maverick! We Need To Bring Our Troops Home And Give Them The Benefits Are Care They Deserve! Obama Will Do It And Mccain Will Not! We Should All Vote For Our Troops And Vote Obama!

    September 20, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  3. Florida Voter

    A draft would not be needed if we consolidate our military forces and fight the right war, (Afgan).

    It was the misguided ambition of Bush/Cheney that stretched our military like chewed bubblegum.

    With the right strategy in the right war we could have rapped this up over 3 years ago.

    September 20, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  4. Marge Hibbing Mn

    Wonder if you'll see the face of Jesus on that ceiling...seems like every time you turn around someone does. Boy there sure must be a big one in obama's butt all the people sticking their head up there, that's probably what they are looking for.

    September 20, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. Eric Cooper

    Will never happen! There is no shortage of people wanting to enlist in the military. The problem is the restrictions on who is allowed to join. For instance, if your a few pounds over weight, have a tattoo in the wrong place, have a child and aren't married, have to many traffic tickets, have bad credit, etc...

    Relax, there are many issues to consider in this election but this isn't one of them.

    September 20, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. Let us talk about real issues

    A very interesting point. So far both the major candidates have avoided delving into the details of what they want to do on the issue of the depleted military personnel. Mr.Obama did say that people should serve in the armed forces but it did not mean as a soldier. Or they could choose the Foreign service. I am kind of sad that the real issues have not been discussed about in detail. Afghanistan is a disaster and it is best not to talk about Iraq. I wonder of either of the candidates will offer a straight answer.

    September 20, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. Barney

    Maybe some of the wealthy kids will get called this time – not just blacks and poor whites.

    This country is already in the last stages before a major revolution against the mess in DC – something has to give. We're given out.

    September 20, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. T

    Senator McCain was pretty clear that he was a big part of the financial meltdown when Bernanke blew the horn in Jerusalem.

    Hopefully, McCain, 72, will retire n

    September 20, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  9. BS

    Mrs. Palin's current family family crisis (troopergate, pregnant daughter, newborn) is sure to have a psychological impact on the Governor and her family. In addition her, religious views are almost apocalyptic.

    If McCain wanted a right wing Christian, he should of went with former Governor Huckabee who is an evangelical scholar.

    It will depend if America wants to move forward from the Rove / Cheney years.

    September 20, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. CPO,USN(Ret)

    Mr. Forsythe is right. There is NO way this country can rely on an 'all volunteer' force any longer. As someone whose immediate family has (and continues to) given over 100 years of active service, our military is in worse shape than our economy! Only so much can be asked of the brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Marines currently serving on active duty. It's time for ALL of America to step up and make sacrifices for our country! This question needs to be asked of both candidates... what say you Senators Obama & McCain?

    September 20, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  11. S. Boatman

    Can Anyone Tell Me At What Age A Draft Would Begin And End? What Are The Cut Off Points?

    September 20, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. Bulldog

    As I've been saying for months now, McCain and Palin have no choice but to institute a military draft with their plans of going to war with Russia and Iran. I say that the if they win this election the people who vote for them have to put their children and grandchildren up for the draft before anybody else. I will fight tooth and nail for my children to join the military under McCain's leadership. His temper and philosophies will start a War World III if the voters let him. Don't say you weren't warned.

    September 20, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. brian

    If the volunteer army can't garner enough support for a war, that directly correlates to the amount of public support for the war. And in a Democracy, only wars with public support should be waged.

    September 20, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. Barney

    And don't forget folks, if McCain starts more wars, there will be male and female drafted.

    I've voting for the intelligent guys that would rather solve problems peacefully.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. A CANUCK

    When Obama Is in the White House ....a draft won't be necessary because he has more intelligent ideas for handling strife !!
    Obama& Biden 2008/12

    September 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. mitchell

    i guess he needs more war?

    September 20, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. facts are facts

    He is right if McCain is elected the draft is inevitable. The U.S. needs to start putting more emphasis on helping their citizens in America instead of putting the bulk of their resources in war and war supplies.

    Why hasn't CNN done an expose on this subject as it is very important to every American?

    McCain on banking and health
    OK, a correspondent directs me to John McCain’s article, Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American, in the Sept./Oct. issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries. You might want to be seated before reading this.
    Here’s what McCain has to say about the wonders of market-based health reform:
    Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
    So McCain, who now poses as the scourge of Wall Street, was praising financial deregulation like 10 seconds ago — and promising that if we marketize health care, it will perform as well as the financial industry!
    This is a challenge to CNN not to be intimidated by the GOP and serve the public with information pertinent to their welfare.

    September 20, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. Chris

    What we need is a very intelligent and well equipped military. People who make decisions need to open their eyes and think about the future. What we don't need is more people in the military .... We need to fight smart ... sudden attack and rapid withdrawal. WE do not need wars that continue for decades!

    We do not need a DRAFT that breeds inefficiency and apathy toward military....

    September 20, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. Sue, NY

    Well, I've already heard from John McCain's own mouth at a town hall meeting that he feels there needs to be a draft....
    so heaven help us because he is the true warmonger.

    September 20, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  20. Dan

    Only the present course of US diplomacy would include the need to renew the draft. If McCain/Palin were to push for Georgia 's inclusion as a full member of NATO, and Russia were to attack them, by treaty with NATO we are obligated to defend Georgia. All living former Secretaries of state consider this a rash overture that should not be taken glibly.

    Furthermore, John “Bomb bomb bomb Iran” McCain has lost his credibility as a peace broker and coalition builder.

    September 20, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Barney

    S Boatman – draft age is 18 to 35 (last I heard)

    September 20, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Barney

    We don't need more subpoena-dodgers in the WH. 8 years of that has been waaay too much for a lifetime.

    September 20, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  23. S. Boatman

    @ Barney . . . Thank You For The Information!

    September 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. Murf

    The one thing that this country should not have and does not need is a draft. History is a great teacher if people will study it. Dim witted political leaders who blunder into repeated and ill considered wars just prove the foolishness of reinstituting the draft. Remember Viet Nam and Iraq? The Mexican American War and the Indian Wars? Both the military and Congress have been gulled into supporting unjust military operations in the past – only to admit their errors years later.

    And, very unfortunately, our military leadership is constrained from putting its foot down and saying "There is no case for war."

    We can not afford to put the lives of our sons and daughters at risk without adequate justification – and only truly major events such as WW1 and WW2 or the Civil War – justify such a drastic measure.

    September 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. Bandido

    Hey Barney, how's the corn at the market? I think it's best if you stay home and leave the questions to the pros.

    September 20, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |