The Internet and the Military Draft: Part Two of a Review of a Recent Libertarian Speech

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Part Two of My Review of a Recent Speech

In my final thoughts on the speech given by Eric Garris about the Internet, I’d like to provide some personal insight into one area about which he talked. After proving his point about the libertarian free market mechanics of the Internet, Garris then takes us in the direction of the Internet and politics. As I was directly in the middle of one of the examples he provided, I’d like to add that he was absolutely accurate in his detail:

During the last presidential campaign, almost everyone was online, keeping tabs on what the candidates were saying as had never been feasible for any of the other elections in American history. And so when John Kerry posted on his Web site that he believed in a mandatory national service program, some activists caught it immediately and, correctly predicting the Kerry camp would take it down as soon as it was noticed and criticized, make caches online for posterity’s sake. The buzz about a possible draft spread infiltrated the mainstream, thanks to the net. People began to fear conscription would come back under Kerry, and others suggested Bush might bring it back, too.

The Kerry people took the offending line off its site — which was pointless, since more people probably read about the removal than read his online platform.

The Washington Times justified Garris’s account (I was the quoted insider):

Mr. [Aaron] Russo, perhaps seeing another chance to annoy Mr. Kerry, ramped up his own antidraft rhetoric by saying that Mr. Kerry recently continued to use the pesky word “mandatory” in his description of student service at his campaign Web site.

But as of yesterday, Mr. Russo said, the “mandatory” adjective was strangely missing from the account – though it still turned up in a check of the site’s archives. The disappearance is a mystery – “just another indicator of the flip-flop nature of John Kerry, perhaps,” one insider said.

To expound on a point made by thousands of bloggers during the last presidential election cycle, the Internet is a very effective medium to immediately implement political change. I was advised by many Libertarians not to use military conscription as a political issue in the Russo campaign. Many thought the issue would go nowhere — but we turned it into an issue which both Bush and Kerry eventually had to face time and time again.

Despite claims from the same newspaper that Russo followed Nader’s lead on combating the draft, Russo started the presidential level Internet buzz as early as January 2004. The level of rumors had really picked up by the time this article appeared at NewsMax. Continuing to hammer Kerry about his call for slavery mandatory service, we also corrected the historical revision made by the Times in this article.

The Russo campaign kept applying pressure on Kerry about this issue until Russo lost his bid for nomination at the LP Convention. Wasting no time and taking advantage of the temporary disorganization in the Badnarik camp, Kerry immediately announced that he would add 40,000 new troops to the Army.

Once his real campaign was off the ground, Badnarik started applying pressure to Kerry, who in turn applied pressure to Bush. The issue soon starting receiving major media coverage as a signicant campaign issue.

At the same time Michael Badnarik was being arrested, both Bush and Kerry were forced to officially go on the record during their second debate:

BUSH: We’re not going to have a draft so long as I am the president.

KERRY: Daniel, I don’t support a draft.

While the verdict is still out as to whether Bush will reinstate the draft, current resolve against the war makes it difficult for him to do so. Especially since we harnessed the libertarian power of the Internet to first expose and then exploit a major political issue.

6 Comments
  1. I got the chance to talk with Aaron Russo, at a ball game, where one of our Missouri LP party factions was holding an event. I got to chat, break beer with, and hang out with this guy, and I really got the impression that he’s too decent a human being to be in high political office.

  2. Keith,

    Of all the time I spent with him, I never saw him drink a beer. Not that he didn’t grab my glass of wine from time to time to take a small sip, though.