Martha Raddatz noted that Army and Marine Corps leaders just said they thought women, like men, should have to register for the draft — the nonexistent draft. Shouldn't we ask why we impose ritual form-filing on anyone?
Raddatz prefaced her question to the candidates with: "Many of you have young daughters." I find that offensive, but maybe you think it properly pokes at the conscience or moral feeling. Why shouldn't the prod be "Many of you have young sons"? Why are sons burdened with something that daughters get to ignore? Do we even remember the traditional answer? Young men's bodies are expendable. Women's bodies are needed to produce the next generation of expendable males and baby-making females.
Raddatz aims first at Rubio. Does he think "young women [should] be required to sign up for Selective Service in case of a national emergency?" Rubio begins with the recognition that woman do now serve in combat and that he supports it "so long as the minimum requirements necessary to do the job are not compromised." Fine, but those are volunteers. What about exposing women to some future draft? He says: "Selective Service should be opened up for both men and women...." Opened up? Isn't that odd? We're talking about imposing a requirement, not creating options. He quickly moves on to a military topic where he's got talking points to dump — rebuilding our too-small Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Raddatz moves on to Jeb Bush, who completely fails to answer the question. He babbles about not imposing a "political agenda" on the military, the right (not the requirement) of women to serve in combat if they can meet "minimum requirements," and how we shouldn't be "weak militarily" and just "talk about red lines, and ISIS being the J.V. team, and reset buttons and all this." Raddatz tries to pull him back to the question, and he responds with the assertion that the draft won't be reinstituted. There's quite a bit more pushing by Raddatz to get him onto the question, and though at one point he reveals he knows what the question is — "You — you asked a question not about the draft, you asked about registering" — he never gives one word of an answer.
At this point, Chris Christie breaks in: "Martha? Can I — can I be really — can I be really clear on this, because I am the father of two daughters?" Demanding to go next? Playing the I-have-2-daughters card? He gets away with this, and he'd better answer the actual question.
What my wife and I have taught our daughters right from the beginning, that their sense of self-worth, their sense of value, their sense of what they want to do with their life comes not from the outside, but comes from within. And if a young woman in this country wants to go and fight to defend their country, she should be permitted to do so.I get that he wants women to think of him as the one who cares about women, but permission to serve if you want is exactly not what registering for the draft is about. But he moves to the right subject:
Part of that also needs to be part of a greater effort in this country, and so there’s no reason why one — young women should be discriminated against from registering for the selective service.Let's just pretend it's the women who are being discriminated against. Do viewers not see that the current discrimination is against men and that the proposal is not to increase but to limit the options open to women?
The fact is, we need to be a party and a people that makes sure that our women in this country understand anything they can dream, anything that they want to aspire to, they can do. That’s the way we raised our daughters and that’s what we should aspire to as president for all of the women in our country.Back to the old cheerleading for women and the treacle about dreams. They say you can "be all that you can be" in the Army as they encourage you to volunteer, but there is at least one very obvious thing that you cannot be in the Army. You can't be a person who is not in the Army.
So Christie got away with interrupting to take the opportunity to promote himself as a champion of feminine fulfillment, and he only answered the question in the form of pretending it meant close to the opposite of what it means.
Now, Ben Carson decides to butt in:
CARSON: Can I say something...He talks about the decrease in volunteers but not the draft as a solution. He wants to treat veterans better, helping them with health care and "integrating them back into society." And then "we won’t have to ever worry about a draft again." So, like Jeb, his only point is there shouldn't need to be a draft. Not a word about the real subject: whether men alone or men and women or nobody should — in a country with no draft — have to register for the draft.
RADDATZ: We just covered — wait one second, Dr. Carson.
CARSON: Something about the draft. Very quickly.
RADDATZ: Very quickly.
How incredibly annoying! It's a difficult question, one I've discussed many time in constitutional law classes, and no one engaged on the level that would get any credit at all on a law school exam. That is, they're not even showing that they understand the question. But you understand the question, I trust. So take this poll and discuss it in the comments.
Here's the Supreme Court case that said it's not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause to require men but not women to register for the draft. That's from 1981, but if you think that's wrong, you should be disturbed that we're still following it. Congress is free to end the discrimination either because disagrees with the Court or because it prefers a stricter standard of formal equality. That stricter formal equality is achievable either by ending registration for the draft or by including women along with men. The alternative that we have now can be defended as a substantive — as opposed to formal — equality, in which the physical differences between male and female bodies justify the different treatment.
In times of dire military emergency, when a draft would be needed, government overcomes the individual's freedom, and in that awful situation, it may see males as expendable and females as necessary to rebuild the population. But so what? If everyone is registered, the government will know who's male and who's females, and if the draft comes, it can restrict the draft to males if it wants. I don't expect any political candidate to talk about this on the level that would satisfy me, but I am criticizing them for failing to answer the question Raddatz asked.