(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – The potential of a military draft has acquired limited attention in the presidential election, but a new Web site addresses the issue with humor in an attempt to reach young voters. The Web site, www.ENJOYtheDraft.com, features Bush’s twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, in military fatigues, “Spring Break Fallujah 2005”, and a trip planner for “that very special junior-year abroad” which includes a one-way ticket to Baghdad and the option of body armor for an extra $50. “Of course these are serious issues we’re debating, but no one wants to listen to doom and gloom all day long, even if in reality there are some pretty gloomy things on the horizon,” said John Aravosis, one of the site’s three creators. “We thought taking a ‘Jon Stewart’ approach to the issue might be the best way to get our message out.”
Aravosis, and top liberal bloggers Matt Stoller, 26 and Kyle Shank, 20 launched the website last week. In its first week, the site has received almost 150,000 hits, including visitors from over 100 colleges and universities throughout the country such as Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, and Washington University. “While we’ve also had visitors from every major TV network and newspaper, what matters most to us are the college visitors, and in that area alone we’ve been really successful in getting our word out,” Aravosis said. “The website grabs your attention that’s for sure,” said Lindsay Mandell, a senior at George Washington University. “If it had come out earlier, I think it could have been more affective and gotten even more publicity.”
Both John Kerry and George W. Bush have said they would not implement a military draft but numerous websites say that Bush is secretly looking into it. “The notion that somebody’s peddling out there that there is a secret plan to reinstitute the draft, hogwash, not true,” Vice President Cheney said on NBC’s Nightly News on Sept. 29.
Kerry has repeatedly called the heavy use of National Guard and reserve troops for extended duty in Iraq by the Bush administration a “backdoor draft”.
“The draft has been the sleeper issue of this election,” said Aravosis. “It’s an issue that a lot of young voters care about and are justifiably worried about since they’re the ones who will be drafted.”
Some people have said that a draft seems inevitable under the Bush administration. “Right now — with both our regular and Reserve soldiers stretched beyond the breaking point — our all-volunteer force is tapping out,” said retired Col. David Hackworth. If our overseas troop commitments continue at the present rate or climb higher, there won’t be enough Army and Marine grunts to do the job.”
The Bush administration continues to maintain that there is no need for a military draft.
“I hear there’s rumors on the Internet that we’re going to have a draft. We’re not going to have a draft, period. The all-volunteer army works,” Bush said in the second Presidential debate.
A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep, Charles Rangel, D-NY, and Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif. last January, was overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of 402-2 in October. If approved, the National Service Act of 2003 would have required all U.S. citizens between the age of 18 and 25 to serve two years of military service. ENJOYtheDraft.com has received both positive and negative feedback, its creators said.
“I think what has surprised me the most is that some people believe you can’t be a good American if you are concerned about the war in Iraq,” Aravosis said. “If you really honor the troops, you speak up.”