© Truman Library
A Case For Universal Service
Why America Needs the Draft

American democracy suffers when we place the responsibility for defense on an increasingly narrow segment of the population. We need a more republican country, and a more democratic military.

Published on: January 16, 2014
Kathleen Frydl is author of The GI Bill (2009), winner of the 2010 Louis Brownlow Book Award, and Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973 (2013).
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  • Anthony

    Pro or Con universal military service, essay makes salient point: a narrow % of Americans (primarily Millennials, young men and women) provides via American Armed Forces protection to overwhelming majority. A majority who may or may not be oblivious to their national contribution. Essay brings a timely offered public policy idea especially given variant nature of issue – “military should be large and powerful only when it includes the service of citizen-soldiers” being just one.

  • qet

    A thoughtful piece, but I don’t think realistic. Barring some apocalypse that resets history, we are never going to fight another war like WW2. There just isn’t the need for masses of infantry anymore. Modern soldiering is a highly technical skill set, learned over time and performed in small units. The trend to using stand-off weapons that began in the US Civil War has only accelerated. Soldiers today wield technology, not rifles and bayonets. The only conceivable way in which large numbers of soldiers could be needed would be if the US were to be continuously engaged in multiple conflicts simultaneously around the globe. That is a possible future for us, but it would be the end of us. And I have always found the social justice argument of Rangel and others suspect. If the military did move to a conscription policy that substituted more well-off whites for minorities, it wouldn’t be long before someone complained of the racist nature of a policy that deprived minorities of still another honorable career path to education, good wages and benefits. Finally, I think the ideological conceit behind calls for a renewal of the draft, that military service would inculcate sorely needed civic-mindedness and pride in the Republic, is just that–a conceit. An honorable one, yes; one tempting to hold out hope for. But that ship has sailed for America.

    • Anthony

      Very realistic if dimensional thinking commends author’s formulation for future America. That is, implication from essay suggests Kathleen Frydl studies idea from many angles utilizing added dimensions; and yes old modules, formulas, and statistics can be arrayed against her idea but her approach shows generational light.

    • Andrew Allison

      Agreed. Unfortunately our ossified and utterly self-interested command structure recognizes that their continued employment is at stake.
      That said, as someone who was taught to straighten up and fly right thanks to conscription, I think it should be considered as a way to deal with youth unemployment. It may be less costly to conscript them than deal with the social cost.

      • qet

        In my view, in 2013 America the costs of conscripting people would be enormous.

  • Fat_Man

    And we’ll just go out in the backyard and pick the money off of the money tree.

    • Corlyss

      We need to pull the money out of the g- d- entitlements programs that are destroying this nation. Tony Judt alluded in his book Postwar that the generous welfare state in its most modern form was created by the broken European states as a way of keeping fascism and communism from swallowing them whole after WW2. It doesn’t take much to step back one in the thought process and arrive at the proposition that the creators of postwar policies saw the welfare state as a way to suck money out of the militaries with an industrial vacuum cleaner. By thus crippling the militaries and spending it on social programs they could thereby deprive the state of the means to make war that had been the plague of the early 20th century. It’s difficult to see collapse of European militaries and NOT think of it as the desired outcome of a conscious decision.

      • Fat_Man

        Corlyss: 15 years too late.

  • Anthony

    Another thought, I don’t know AI’s reader demographics but I can intelligently surmise that majority is beyond military service age. To my mind, “Why America Needs the Draft” is essay/idea to be both paid for and engaged by a demographic infrequently commenting here. So, WRM raise a call for Americans most potentially affected by Ms Frydl’s idea to share their thoughts…

  • bannedforselfcensorship

    “But by the same token, it may be that the politician’s temptation to cavalierly engage in military interventions could be better controlled by a deliberative landscape shaped by national service. ”

    Explain Korea and Vietnam then.

    In fact, in the past many of our presidents have served in the military and did call for interventions. I’m also not sure if every case of a war being unpopular means its also necessary.

    • Andrew Allison

      The way to control politician’s temptation to cavalierly engage in military operations is to require a lottery which will sent 10% of them to the theater of operations, for combat duty rather than a junket. Ditto for Generals, Admirals and anybody else who decides to send our children to war (as I recall, we have enough Admirals to put one in command of every vessel in the Navy — let’s do so).

  • B-Sabre

    Wow…just wow. There are so many things in here that tell me the author has no idea of what she is speaking about.

    “Since then, the U.S. military has shifted critical invasion duties to the National Guard, partly on the justifiable premise that war should engage the home-front.”

    I think you mean “occupation duties” instead? In any event, pretty much every active duty formation has National Guard and Reserve “round out” formation that are required to bring them up to full strength. So any action that requires a full deployment of US forces is going to involve the Guard.

    “President Roosevelt cheered the changing of the guard of the nepotistic and backward commanders who assured him, in the early days of war, that cavalry would be the essential instrument in the defeat of Hitler’s ground forces.”

    Sources please? The US Army had either inactivated or converted all its horse cavalry divisions into mechanized units by November 1940, more than a year before we joined the war. Nobody who served in WW1 would have though that cavalry would have a place on the modern battlefield.

    “…the U.S. Armed Forces grew to unprecedented strength, mobilizing millions both in and out of uniform to splash battleship after battleship into the ocean and to build the world’s first atomic bombs.”

    Um….no? It was civilian workers who “splashed battleship after battleship” built in private and government shipyards into the ocean. And the US suspended construction of battleships in July 1942 because Midway had demonstrated the supremacy of carriers in naval warfare. Also, from wikipedia:

    In June 1944, the Manhattan Project employed some 129,000 workers, of whom 84,500 were construction workers, 40,500 were plant operators and 1,800 were military personnel.

    So almost everything cited in that sentence was done primarily by mobilized civilians, not draftees. There are plenty of heroic examples that the author could of cited – Omaha and Utah Beach, Bastonge, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Battle of Atlantic, Midway, Guadalcanal, etc. And yet she picks two that had minimal draftee assistance.

    I pretty much gave up at that point. The only thing I would cite in counter argument is that most Western countries, including the egalitarian-obssessed French, have either given up or are giving up on conscription to form their national defense forces. The Russians are struggling to get rid of it, but can’t despite efforts to shift to a professional army (too many Soviet-era generals who like big parade formations, I guess). The use of short-term draftees is seen as incompatible with the effective deployment of modern, sophisticated weaponry – by the time the draftee is trained and ready as a competent warrior, it’s time to discharge him.

  • El Gringo

    “I for one believe that universal service would be a good thing for the military.”

    Says a person who neither served in the military or signed a selective service card.

    • Corlyss

      False logic.

      • Andrew Allison

        Not logic at all, simply anopinion. But absent the last three words in the quotation, I share it.

    • Andrew Allison

      As long as it included our elected reprehensatives LOL

  • Stephen

    “Many have been mindful, too, of the view of most of our officer corps that in a high-tech age the U.S. military neither needs nor can afford to babysit huge numbers of short-timers with no enthusiasm for being in the force. That is not a point to be casually dismissed.”

    However, dismiss it, you do. But why?

    (Couldn’t we just draft everyone for a two-year stint at summer camp – getting to know each other around the campfire, hot chocolate in hand? And here I thought the primary purpose of the armed services was to kill, or otherwise incapacitate, opposing elements of other nation states. I didn’t realize that their primary benefit in history was to remake our society. My mistake.)

    Ohhhhhh…I see: “But by the same token, it may be that the politician’s temptation to cavalierly engage in military interventions could be better controlled by a deliberative landscape shaped by national service. If so, that’s not a trivial benefit, and it may outweigh any of the tactical considerations usually cited as objections to universal service.”

    Ms. Krydl has nothing new to say, and the entire column can be reduced to the sentences quoted. What happened to the editors of AI?

    Perhaps like many before her, she dreams of sixties-style protests motivated by fear of the draft. She certainly prefers hobbling the armed services, at great expense no less, to dealing with the politics of war straight up. This approach is fundamentally dishonest and has been recognized as such for decades. Honesty, and history itself, would dictate arguing for a more modest foreign policy and far smaller, but professional, military.

    • B-Sabre

      ” And here I thought the primary purpose of the armed services was to kill, or otherwise incapacitate, opposing elements of other nation states. ”
      Having worked as a DA civilian for many years, the way I heard it expressed was “Our job is to kill people and break things.”
      The more formal phrasing in the Army is “to overcome and destroy the enemies of the United States through shock, maneuver and firepower.”

      • Corlyss

        One of my favorite sayings. Would you believe a pacifist friend refused to meet a friend of mine who was in the Army because I said, “As my friend says . . . ?”

  • BobSykes

    This are approximately 20 million 18 year olds in the US, half male, and about 1.4 million active duty personnel. The annual military budget is just under $700B. If conscripts serve for two years, you have an active duty military of about 40 millions people and an annual budget of about $20T, which is about 1.25 times the US’ GDP.

    Way to go, idiot

    • Kevin

      Most of the draftees will not go into military service. (We d t need and can’t afford 20 million men under arms.). Instead it will be two years of corvee labor for most under the guise of national service or some other euphemism. They will spend two years emptying bedpans or painting graffiti or whatever else the piers that be can come up with. Or we will see a draft lottery with all the exemptions for the sons of the rich and powerful that discredited the Cold War draft.

    • free_agent

      That’s an odd calculation, because it scales at $500,000 per active duty person. Not only are there civilian employees, there are a lot of hardware acquisition costs. And in any case, draftees will probably be handled in a far less expensive way than the current professionals. Clearly it can be done successfully in some sense. The economy is *already* spending the money needed to keep these people employed or in school or whatever. So that money could be extracted as a tax and used to pay them.

      The important point from what you say is that the draftees would have to be used by the military (or whatever service they were inducted into) in a vastly different way that current active duty personnel are.

  • brad lena

    Good luck with that one.There is no comparison between the culture of the draft era and the entitled post-modern culture of today.

  • TommyTwo

    If you’ve bothered reading this entire article, I highly urge you to read the essay Proud Legions by the recently departed T.R. Fehrenbach (excerpted from This Kind of War, his classic history of the Korean War). It explains some of the dangers of mixing military and civilian life.

    “those who dismiss a return to service by citizen-soldiers when they argue that democratic values have no place in an authoritarian environment like the military. … The historical record rejects these musings.”

    Fehrenbach would argue that no, it does not. The examples you would cite are of draftees fighting in wars with national emotional support, who were self-motivated and indeed got the job done. But if you have a literaly unnecessary peacetime draft, the pressure to lower disciplinary standards will be overwhelming, to the detriment of the military.

    • Anthony

      Thanks, TommyTwo. Proud Legions excellent read and two items of note: “Except in this world are tigers” and “the tragedy of Americans arms is that having an imperfect sense of history Americans sometimes forget as quickly as they learn.” Again, thanks for sharing.

    • Andrew Allison

      Me again [grin]. As noted elsewhere in this thread, it’s my (never-humble) opinion that the military deployment of draftees is irrelevant — modern wars involve so few troops that the professionals can take care of it. The potential value of a draft (not necessarily military, but run along military lines) is to instill self-discipline and job skills into under-educated and -employed youth.

      • TommyTwo

        I’m sympathetic to the argument, but:

        1. I’m not sure how you would separate the warriors from the hoi polloi in a way that would avoid the problems mentioned. If you want to keep the regular army as is and create a new National Service Corps, I withdraw this objection. However, this is not at all what the post advocates, and those drafted into a second-class unnecessary body are unlikely to enter it with a great attitude.

        2. You’ve noticed (though not agreed with) the strong ideological opposition in the US to something as seemingly benign as mandatory health insurance. The objectors, with much justification, argue that forcing citizens to spend money for their own good is in opposition to traditional American values. How much more so in this case! All young adults would be forced into unnecessary quasi-military service for their own good?! Life, military, and the pursuit of self-discipline? (The calculus changes somewhat for individuals who become dependent on government for welfare, education subsidies, etc, but this creates its own problems.)

        3. I reiterate my argument that if a society is generally sick enough to create the widespread problem you describe, the military cannot and will not even be allowed to cure the problem. Even the old-school ways did not always succeed (see a poem called “That Day” 🙂 or even better, “The Drums of the Fore and Aft”) and recruits had to learn through bitter experience. In today’s climate? Not a chance. They’ll come in rotten and sullen, and they’ll leave the same way. And we won’t even have the pleasure of seeing some of them attrited through warfare.

        (I’m going to pretend that the last sentence was tongue in cheek.)

        • Andrew Allison

          It’s a pleasure doing discourse with you!
          1. I was, in fact, proposing a National Service Corps of any sort. And attitude modification is precisely the point. You didn’t address the manifest incompetence of the military high command (I’m not prepared to accept the argument that they were constrained by the idiots we elect — the military (IMNHO) has a higher duty (dangerous but, within limits, necessary).
          2. With respect, you have misunderstand my arguments concerning national health insurance. I have consistently (and, obviously, ineffectually) argued that if, and only if, society decides that a minimal level of heathcare is an entitlement, the only way to achieve it is national health insurance. The reason I think this to be the case is evidenced by the ACA disaster, which guarantees failure. In sort, everybody into the pool!
          3. Based on personal experience, I beg to differ. I invited you once again to think about what Kipling wrote, namely there’s a price to be paid.

          • TommyTwo

            My apologies for carelessly misrepresenting your opinions on health insurance.

            Regarding a National Service Corps, I remain dubious, but in the unlikely event that it is actually created and manned through a mandatory universal peacetime draft, I sincerely hope your evaluation proves correct, as I would file the alternative under “God help us.” (Not so much for the immediate results as for what it would indicate about the US.)

            (And thanks for the compliment. I’ll ask TAI to provide us with more purely hypothetical scenarios to discuss. 🙂 )

          • Andrew Allison

            Ruthless application of the Grandma Mead dining table rule would make discussion (as opposed to spouting political talking points) much more rewarding.
            You didn’t address the demonstrated incompetence of the military command chain. I concede that there are dangers, but shouldn’t an honorable commander resign in the face of political stupidity? Regards, A

          • TommyTwo

            Next you’re going to tell me that an argument isn’t just the
            automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.

            “You didn’t address the demonstrated incompetence of the military command chain.”

            Mostly because I don’t understand what relevant point you wish to make. Elucidation, please?

          • Andrew Allison

            I was arguing that the usefulness of arguments (an exchange of ideas rather than hurling insults) is directly related to the civility of the discussion.
            As to the rest, we’ve drifted away from the topic of our sub-thread, namely your assertion the the military command structure opposes the draft and mine that they haven’t won a war for us since 1945. I readily acknowledge that their hands have been tied by politicians of all stripes, but IMO the command structure has shown itself to be unprincipled in the sense that they have implemented strategies which they knew could not succeed rather than do the honorable thing and resign. Best, A

          • TommyTwo

            Ah. I don’t think the bald assertion was mine, but I do stand by it. Regarding your assertion, without wanting to enter that topic, I think it’s overbroad, but has a fair deal of truth in it. Unfortunately, and to the shame of those guilty. And to bring this back to the original topic, one of my misgivings is that if we demand that the generals move from “killing people and breaking things” to whipping the youth into shape in order to fix the ills of our society, they inevitably are going to get even more contaminated by politics.

            (My first sentence in the previous comment was meant as a humorous reference to Monty Python’s Argument Clinic.)

          • Andrew Allison

            A pleasure doing discourse with you, as always. A

  • ZFK

    Dr. Frydl has some legitimate concerns about the growing isolation of the AVF, but she is dangerously wrong in a lot of her thinking. Reforming the military is a topic which deserves a far longer essay (and a more qualified critic). A few glaring issues with her arguments:

    1. The military is not disproportionately comprised of ethnic minorities. That kind of Vietnam-era thinking is common among academia, but doesn’t stand up to fact. You have to compare enlisted personnel and the officer corps to the high school graduate and college degree-holding populations respectively. In sum, the enlisted corps is skewed slightly more white (and less Hispanic), and the officer corps slightly more black than their respective educational cohorts (http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/demographics.asp, page one of the FY11 report)

    2. Military personnel are better educated and come from wealthier backgrounds than the average American. The way in which the military really differs from society as a whole is in geography. The military is disproportionately from the South and Mountain West, where (perhaps not coincidentally) all the major military bases are (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/08/who-serves-in-the-us-military-the-demographics-of-enlisted-troops-and-officers)

    3. “Critical invasion duties” can never be relegated to the Guard and Reserves if they are to be done on short notice. Guard and Reserve personnel work 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year at their military job. While their service is valuable, they need to be extensively trained (“mobilized” is the term) before they are ready for the real deal.

    4. The military’s pensions and Tricare don’t make them a “privileged” group. While some of these policies are wrongly structured, they were put in place to get people to volunteer for service. If they were such a great deal, we wouldn’t need recruiters would we? For an interesting idea about revamping the pension system, see the “10-15-55 Plan” (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil%2Fpdffiles%2FPUB1162.pdf&ei=y5_YUtDPO4PC7AaM1oGABA&usg=AFQjCNHZppj2FqxkfslktKZxdMmpmHp52w&sig2=mR_jQkj6rCO7PoEUeu3k5A&bvm=bv.59568121,d.ZGU )

    5. Contractors are a serious problem in the military, but that has nothing to do with the draft. It has everything to do with the pervasive influence of the “military industrial complex” and almost certainly benefits some key Congressional districts. In intelligence, I can tell you that retaining personnel is made considerably more difficult by the fact that my 21-year-old junior analysts can leave as soon as their contract is up for a contracting position which pays 4 times as much for the same task.

    There are a lot of things the military needs to reform, but Dr. Frydl is clearly not the person to address them. I would have hoped that Dr. Mead (who I’ve met and have tremendous respect for) would have picked a more qualified individual to comment on such an important issue.

    • PKCasimir

      I agree whole heartedly with your comments. I had started to make some additional points but then stopped because I realized that Dr Frydl doesn’t have the foggiest clue about today’s military. Absolutely none. And if you polled the entire senior leadership of the Armed Forces. commissioned and non-commissioned officers alike, my guess would be that over 95% would be against the draft. You just can’t fight today’s wars with draftees.
      I was on active duty when Robert Strange McNamara tried social engineering with the military – what a disaster.

      • Andrew Allison

        Actually, as the US has conclusively demonstrated over the past three decades, you can’t fight today’s wars with people, drafted or professional.
        My suggestion, rephrased, was that providing gainful employment and self-disciple to under-educated and unemployed youth might cost less than leaving them on the trash-heap. An argument might be made that even if they never left their barracks, they would come out as better citizens than they were when they went in.
        As for the “entire senior leadership of the Armed Forces. commissioned and non-commissioned officers alike”, just how successful have they been? The last war they actually managed to win for us ended almost 70 years ago!

        • PKCasimir

          I guess we lost the Cold War, didn’t successfully invade Grenada and Panama, didn’t defeat Iraq twice and didn’t defeat the Taliban.
          In any event, you demonstrate your total lack of knowledge of what the modern American military force is like if you think you can man today’s sophisticated weapons systems with under-educated and non-motivated youth. Obviously, you have never supervised or commanded men if you believe that you can take unemployed, under-educated youth and “make them better citizens,” whatever the hell that means. Robert Strange McNamara tried it; it was a total disaster.

  • free_agent

    I don’t know if we want to (or can) support a universal military service, but it is true that we seem to have reduced the obligations of citizenship to simply paying our taxes and voting (if we feel like putting in the effort). A higher level of collective labor would probably give people a better attitude. On the other hand, WW II had the salutary effect of putting people in a position where they either collaborated effectively or everybody would die. That wouldn’t be true any more.

    OTOH, I don’t know if that is so much different from times past, if we exclude the WW II to Cold War era as an anomaly. I gather that the military during the late 1800s largely recruited new immigrants.

    • Corlyss

      “simply paying our taxes”

      I wish. Have you seen the stats lately on how many people pay no Federal income taxes? http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3505 IOW tax-paying ain’t much of a civic obligation either.

      • free_agent

        You write, “how many people pay no Federal income taxes?”

        Though to be fair, you should include Federal payroll taxes, state income taxes, state sales taxes, various excise taxes on specific goods, and local property taxes (which can be paid directly or through your landlord). Not many people escape paying all of those; even the hobo around the corner gets stuck with the excise tax on his Ripple wine.

    • TommyTwo

      I’m sympathetic, but imagine running this past the Founding Fathers:
      we’ll put all citizens in 2-3 years of unnecessary indentured servitude
      for the sole purpose of improving their attitude…

      • free_agent

        Well, the Founding Fathers didn’t seem to object to the various local and state operated militias, and IIRC participation was mandatory in some of them.

  • ljoe

    Based on the title, I was surprised to see what I thought
    was going to be a conservative argument in The American Interest and I was
    prepared to disagree. After reading the
    piece, I found it to be a thoughtful and progressive case for universal service.

  • Mark Sizer

    About 25% can’t pass the (incredibly simple) ASVAB tests. What is the military supposed to do with them? To keep everyone in the echo-chamber they are comfortable with, a Puffington Post source and a FauxNews source

  • Corlyss

    This is the much needed policy that dare not speak its name. I’ve been lamenting the declining state of the army ever since I realized many of the defects in the underlying premise of the all-volunteer army. It should be noted that in “peacetime” the army was the only military service to draft. The great social benefits of the draft were discounted as long as the aggressive advocacy student organizations protested and got their way. (Greatest Generation’s reflexive collapse in the face of Boomers’ childish whining and their determined efforts to avoid adult responsibility that previous generations accepted as an obligation. Boomers’ offspring have continued their inglorious tradition: surveys reveal that by 75% parents acknowledge that unrelenting whining works on them.) Among the great social benefits I see increasingly absent: 1) leadership training; 2) class mixing; 3) purposeful teamwork; 4) learned individual sacrifice to accomplish a specific objective beneficial to a larger goal. And that’s just ones I can think of off the top of my head. I would say we will come to rue the day this sorry program ever gained such currency in the only nation left to guarantee the international system, but that day has come and gone already. Still the society is unwilling to tackle the organized whiners who fight the draft concept tooth and nail.

    • B-Sabre

      I would argue that if the schools are not the place to “civilize” our young (and if they are, they’re doing a lousy job of it) then that would go double for the Army. A reform school with rifles it ain’t.

      • Corlyss

        You’re referring to the decision to use the military to model social experiments that then can be held up to the larger society for imitation. I agree wholeheartedly. The fact that it has worked so far has merely been a function of the absence of traditional warfare. Everyone says that kind of warfare is gone forever. I bet the Romans never thought their civilization would collapse in the face of barbarians they couldn’t control using an army of non-Roman colonial soldiers either. I don’t really go in for analogies, period, and certainly not analogies between the current US and ancient Rome; I mention this only to show never say never. In the case of the current US military, it’s no lie to say they would not be up to the challenge. Today’s military is drawn largely from minorities. I don’t think that is a good thing, although I’m happy the minorities have found a path to success. I believe the military need a cross-section of all classes to function adequately. Increasingly you can’t find anyone in public service who’s ever served. That’s not a good thing either.

        • Corlyss

          Wish the “down” vote had noted what his objections were.

          • andycanuck

            I’m guessing because you’re wrong about the composition of the U.S. military especially re. the combat arms.

          • Corlyss

            In what respect?

    • TommyTwo

      The obvious counter-argument is that even if we somehow mustered up enough will to overcome the “whiners” and foist a draft, it is exceedingly unlikely that they would then give up their whining. They would successfully demand that the disciplinary standards be watered down, thus not only rendering themselves useless, but ruining the army as a whole.

  • TheDarkHelmet

    A really bad idea. 1) We can’t afford it. 2) We have nothing for those millions to do. 3) It is a gross imposition on a free people.

  • TheDarkHelmet

    I have a better idea. Let’s draft female academics and send them to sub-Saharan Africa as peace keepers. They could do so much good there.

  • kurt9

    A draft is just so 20th Century. This is the 21st Century:


    The very concept of a draft is utterly obsolete.

  • Jim__L

    So, were the inhabitants of Stalin’s gulags “participating in power”? They were certainly contributing to the construction of the New Russia. Political unity through corvee labor is very appealing to Statists, but to the rest of us, not so much.

    The whole reason that the draft got wiped out during Vietnam was the fact that people didn’t believe in the war. It was seen as politicians giving in to the temptation to “cavalierly engage in military interventions.” The reaction to it was not “deliberative”.

    The lesson here is that certain levels of power *should not be*. The principle of “subsidiarity” needs to apply here. If you can handle it at lower levels — state, local — it should be handled there. Public service especially. People will be able to “participate in power” for more than the 10 minutes every 4 years it takes to vote for president. (Feel free to add Congress to the list… that makes it 10 minutes every 2 years.)

    For at least 300 million Americans, “participating” in Washington DC’s power is largely an illusion.

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