WHO SHOULD GO?
A poll of politicians and people on the draft
BY ROSE WRIGHT
President Carter's State of the Union
message raised a lot of questions as to
what our future military involvement
would be in the Persian Gulf and exactly
who would be involved. In his announcement in support of a renewed draft
registration system, Carter said: "I hope
that it will not be necessary to reimpose
the draft. However, we must be prepared
for that possibility. For this reason, I
have determined that the Selective Service System must now be revitalized/'
Carter had the authority to resume registration of men between the ages of 18
and 26, but he did not address the issue
of registration of young women until a
public statement issued on February 8.
The president announced a proposal
which called for the registration of men
and women, ages 19 and 20, for the draft.
He is opposed to having women serve in
Under the proposal, everyone will
eventually register on his or her 18th
birthday. No draft cards would be issued
under the presidents proposed plan.
The national response to his position
has been varied and the issue is expected
to create quite a debate in Congress.
This month, Breakthrough contacted
members of the Texas congressional delegation to determine how they would respond to the question of registration, the
draft, and the inclusion of women in
the military. Breakthrough also interviewed local people on the street with the
same question. Our interviews were conducted prior to President Carter's most
recent decision affecting the registration
U.S. Senator John Tower, R-Wichita Falls
"I am opposed to the registration of
women. You can call me an old stick-
in-the-mud; the primary need is for
people who can fit into a combat situation."
U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, O-Houston
"I know it isn't a politically popular
decision, but I believe women ought to
register. They too owe an obligation to
serve their country, either in the military
or through some other form of service,
perhaps in areas of need in their com-
Rose Wright is a student intern at Breakthrough.
munities. I've been in combat though,
and I don't think it's realistic or right for
women to be down in the trenches in
time of war. I prefer to see them in roles
that would free men to do the combat.
I say this as a former supporter of the
volunteer army—the concept just isn't
working. The government has to quit
kidding the people about it."
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson
"Congressman Paul is opposed to the
registration of both men and women.
He does think that women should be
treated exactly equally with men and
that both should have the right not to go
because he doesn't believe in registration or the draft. He believes that both
should have the right to volunteer for
any job in the armed forces and both
should have the right not to go."
U.S. Rep. Bob Eckhardt, D-Houston
"I think in light of the events that
have occurred on the borders of Russia,
the president had to raise the question
of registration, but I think it's terribly
premature to decide that we should put
a draft into effect due to the nature of
what has occurred in the various wars
this country has engaged in in the past.
"First of all I think the draft, in something like WWII dimensions, would
drastically affect the lives of all our
young people and if it were rashly
applied, it could threaten our true security. I think to pull a great number of people out of the productive economy and
on to government pay in the army would
immediately sweep away all possibility
of lowering the deficit and would at the
same time retard productivity.
"In many instances, young men and,
I'm sure, a great number of young
women, would elect combat duties and
if they want it they should have it. I
think women should have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the
military whether there's a war or not.
But in circumstances which clearly dictate that a total mobilization is necessary,
I think there should be nothing in the
process of selective service that would
facilitate one group of people sending
another group of people to war. I think
that's one of the very bad things that has
perhaps encouraged a warlike attitude
in our country. Too frequently, the
middle-aged and insecure have sent the
young and the insecure to war without
bearing their proportion and share of
U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson, D-Luf kin
"Congressman Wilson is undecided as
to whether or not women should register
for the draft. He is convinced that women
should not be drafted for the Armed
Services. He has said specifically that he
doesn't see any need for women to
register, because he is opposed to using
women in combat. He also said that the
Armed Services are getting plenty of
female volunteers but where they are
really lacking is in male volunteers "
U.S. Rep. Richard White, DEI Paso
"He believes that our manpower
shortages are in the combat areas and
because women are not used in combat,
he does not believe that they should be
either registered or drafted."
U.S. Rep. Abraham Kazen, Jr., D-Laredo
'The President, in his State of the
Union message, advocated registration of
18-26 year olds. I supported this proposal last year and I still favor it. According to the testimony we heard from
the Armed Services Committee, an
advanced registration system would save
us 90-120 days if we ever had to renew
the draft. I see no need for a draft now,
but the uncertainties and even dangers
that exist in some parts of the world
today suggest we had better take the
registration step now.
"I do not know what the president
will recommend concerning young
women but on the basis of our hearings
last year, I think there was a committee
consensus that they should be registered.
I feel, however, that if a draft ever comes,
women should not be called for combat
"He thinks that as a general rule,
women are not physically strong enough
for the heavy duty of combat and also he
does not want them exposed to the added
dangers that would come to women if
they were captured by the enemy."
U.S. Rep. J. J. Pickle, D-Austin (Patsy
"He supports registration and he supports registering women. On the draft,
he is at this point against the draft for
both men and women."
U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Dallas
"I have already publicly stated that
I support women being included in the
registration. As to when we would have
the draft, that's another matter and I
would hope that we would not return to
the draft any time soon. I do intend to
vote for including women in the registration. I do not think that women
should be put in combat positions though
and I would want to make sure that if
the draft is brought back, women would
only be in non-combat positions.
"I have publicly supported the ERA
and whether in fact it is ever made part
of the constitution is a separate issue.
I'm not basing my support for registering women on the existence or the nonexistence of the E~RA. I think it's a question of equality and of responsibility
and women should be called upon to bear
part of the responsibility. I just don't
think that women should be expected
to do the same things that men do in
terms of physical requirements. (If
women were willing to go into combat)
that's up to the Armed Services as to
whether they feel women would be
U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks, D-Beaumont
"Although the decision is not being
made now as to what role women would
play in the event of the need to reinstate
the draft, it is appropriate to include
them in registration plans. Women have
increasingly demonstrated their ability to
handle areas which were traditionally
considered the province of men alone.
At this time it is not necessary to decide
what activities would in fact be appropriate but it would be unwise not to
proceed with the registration of women
knowing that in the case of a national
emergency, women are able to make substantial contributions toward our defense
U.S. Rep. Phil Gramm, D-College Station
"First of all I am opposed to registering women if we're not going to draft
them. I think a decision needs to be made
about whether or not we're going to draft
women before we register them. I think
it's inefficient; it's expensive; it imposes
a deadweight burden on everybody and
we need to make the decision now about
"Before we can debate the philosophical issues, there are other issues that
we need to get more information on.
Number one: Clearly the legal status
of women has changed since the last
registration occurred and there are some
very real questions legally, on whether or
not we could defend the U.S. government
against lawsuits if we drafted men and
not women. That legal question needs to