October 14th, 2004
Chairman, Republican National Committee
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
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
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.
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
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
Washington, DC 20005