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Rock The Vote Responds To RNC Letter

October 14th, 2004

Ed Gillespie

Chairman, Republican National Committee

Mr. Gillespie:

The letter I received

from you yesterday was quite a surprise. It struck us as just the sort of “malicious

political deception” that is likely to increase voter cynicism and decrease

the youth vote.

In fact, it is

a textbook case of attempted censorship, very much in line with those that triggered

our organization’s founding some fifteen years ago.

I am stunned that

you would say that the issue of the military draft as an “urban myth”

that has been “thoroughly debunked by no less than the President of the

United States.”

I have some news

for you. Just because President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld,

and for that matter Senator Kerry, say that there is not going to be a draft

does not make it so.

Just because Congress

holds a transparently phony vote against the draft does not mean there isn’t

going to be one. Anyone who thinks that the youth of America are going to take

a politician’s word on this topic is living on another planet.

By your logic,

there should be no debate about anything that you disagree with. There’s

a place for that kind of sentiment (and your threats), but its not here in our

country.

There are questions

that the politicians are running away from. How long can we keep 138,000 U.S.

troops or more on the ground in Iraq? What if full-scale civil war erupts there,

as the CIA has warned is a realistic possibility? Would the next President be

faced with a choice of pulling out of Iraq rather than institute a draft? Would

women be drafted? What exactly would the draft-age be?

According to the

Pentagon’s own internal assessment, there are “inadequate total

numbers” of troops to meet U.S. security interests. The current issue

of Time magazine reports that, “General John Keane, who retired last year

as the Army’s No. 2 officer, says the continued success of the all-volunteer

military is not guaranteed” Keane has told Congress that adding more than

50,000 troops to the Army would require thinking about a return to the draft.”

But you want young

people to believe that the draft is just an “urban myth.” I was

expecting that you were going to present some facts to back up your assertion.

But, instead, you have demanded that we stop talking about it.

Although the draft

may not be a discussion topic for someone of your age, we have found that young

people – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – are very interested in this

issue. We believe in the capacity of young Americans to make their own judgments

when fairly presented with the facts.

That is why we

are actively promoting an informed, educated dialogue. I urge you to review

the “Debunking the Myths” section on our website where we address

misperceptions about the draft.

Mr. Gillespie,

this is a generational issue. Nothing cuts closer to the core of the very reason

Rock the Vote exists. We think young people deserve to know where the politicians

stand on this issue and that a generation that could be called to service deserves

more than the phony debate they are getting. We believe that it is only by asking

questions, not by censoring debate that our democracy can remain strong

and vital.

Issues such as

jobs, health care, Iraq, taxes, and education have energized the electorate,

and the draft issue deserves the same serious treatment and candor. Blanket

denials do not square with the facts and do not level with the electorate.

As far as the possibility

that Rock the Vote’s efforts might “decrease the youth vote,”

we are feeling very confident at this point that the opposite is true.

More than 1.1 million

people have used our website to fill out voter registration forms this election

cycle. Our street teams and ground partners have registered hundreds of thousands

more. Young voters are going to surge at the polls on Election Day and make

the difference for whichever candidate does the best job reaching out to them.

Despite the strong

and often strident tone of your letter, I would hope that we could both agree

that honest and open debate is the surest guarantor of our democracy and liberty.

Jehmu Greene, President

Rock the Vote

1313 L Street, NW

First Floor

Washington, DC 20005

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