Possible military draft looms over upcoming presidential election

It’s a perfect time for imperfections. Gimpy legs, heart murmurs, poor vision – if you have any physical problems to speak of – now’s the time to get it on record.

Because when the election rolls around in November, whether you vote for Sen. John Kerry or President George Bush, you’ll have to wonder – are you voting for a military draft?

You’ll have to wonder. When does “mission accomplished” turn into, “the war has barely just begun?” You’ll have to wonder. When does “We need more troops,” turn into “We need you?”

These are scary times.

Our country is involved in two very distinct wars. One, the war against terrorism, centered in Afghanistan. The other, the war in Iraq, seems further from conclusion now than it did when we started.

If you believe that we need to see these wars through – either to justify the deaths of the soldiers already lost or to eliminate terrorism and promote democracy throughout the world – then you must also believe in the possibility, or even likelihood, of a military draft.

It’s heavy stuff, and the possibility can seem remote if you live your life the way I do.

This past summer, I spent time with my girlfriend, my friends and my family and got ready for my freshman year of college.

I might not be a child, but by most practical standards I am not yet an adult. I am only in college because my parents can pay for it.

When I’m not in school, I live at home and expect my parents to provide me with food, shelter and premium cable channels.

And there are many of you who are undoubtedly in similar situations.

And so it is frightening – to me at least – to think that this time next year I could be tiptoeing through a mine field somewhere in the Middle East.

It is frightening to think that this time next year my friends could be dead or dying.

As young Americans, this possibility should be getting us into the voting booths.

But it isn’t. Young adults don’t vote for a variety of reasons – a lack of knowledge and awareness or a general disinterest.

But perhaps most important – as this presidential election illustrates perfectly – candidates don’t attract our generation’s attentions because they refuse to address the issues that are most pressing to young Americans.

Will the wars continue? Will there be a draft? Will I be put in harm’s way?

In politics, questions this direct are not often answered.

So, which presidential candidate believes what?

Your guess is as good as mine. Bush says we need to see it through and Kerry says we need more troops.

Bush said there were weapons of mass destruction, and Kerry voted for war before speaking out against it.

Both the incumbent and his challenger walk the fine line between fact and fiction. Bush lies, Kerry can’t make up his mind. Or vice versa.

It is a sad fact in politics that the general public cannot predict definitively what it is voting for.

Perhaps you think I’m just a coward, afraid of dying. Just a scared kid who doesn’t want to see any bloodshed.

And I wouldn’t argue with that. But so are many of you.

So think about that. Think about what you’re doing now. Think about what you did this summer.

Because you never know – in a short while, you could be packing your bags and kissing it all goodbye.