The other day, I was thinking about the war and how detached I am from the reality of it, how it is perhaps the most important thing going on right now and I often have to remind myself it is happening. For those of us who do not have any friends or family members serving in Iraq, it is easy to forget about the war, especially as news of the presidential campaign and China's actions towards protesters in Tibet pushes news of the war aside. It isn't as if we are asked to make any sort of sacrifices. Far from it. During World War II, Americans were called upon to conserve resources and goods were rationed
, but now, we are told (and have been told for the past seven years, since September 12, 2001) that our patriotic duty is to spend spend spend.
Personally, if I had supported this war, I would have enlisted. I don't think I would be able to look my reflection in the mirror otherwise. But I did not support this war. But I wonder if that really a good enough excuse at this point? Even though I did not support this war, it is still my country and my countrymen who are fighting it, I am invested in wanting a swift outcome and if my presence can help bring peace to the people of Iraq, why should it matter whether I approved of us going there in the first place? We are there now. I am still not too old
to sign up for the Army, Army Reserves, Naval Reserves, and Coast Guard reserves. But I am a stay-at-home mother to a toddler and while I know there are quite a few children in this country whose parents are deployed in Iraq, I think we need to bring them home instead of sending more parents over. Maybe I just say that too rationalize away my decision to stay home and let others fight. Yes, I am too lazy, too scared, too attached to my life, and, I remind myself, I didn't support this war. Why should I enlist when women who are single and younger than me, like Jenna and Barbara and Chelsea, have not?
Then it struck me that if Chelsea Clinton enlisted in the army, that might be the thing which could get her mother back into the presidential race. Because Chelsea doesn't have to support the war to enlist. All she has to do is say something like, "As an American, it is my duty to fight this war, though I have grave doubts about our reasons for being there. There are people my age fighting and dying in Iraq. There are servicemen and women who have seen their tours of duty extended in order to maintain our force's numbers, and that is unacceptable when there are so many able bodied men and women who could serve, but choose not to. I choose to go serve my country in Iraq and I hope more young people will join me. The sooner we help clean up this mess we made in Iraq, the sooner all our troops can come home. I want to bring peace to the people of Iraq."
Look what Prince Harry's stint in Afghanistan did to change some of the public perceptions of him and the royal family (and, this is weird, his girlfriend is named Chelsy). Just imagine what Chelsea enlisting would do to change our image of the house of Clinton. Suddenly, we would forget about Chelsea working for a hedge fund or her snippy answers about the war (no, Chelsea, you didn't need to be clairvoyant to think the war was a bad idea
). By enlisting, she would be seen as courageous and selfless, traits we don't necessarily think of when we think of the Clintons, and we would credit her mother for instilling these traits in her (not simply for sexist reasons like the fact we assume that daughters take after their mothers or that mothers serve as models for their children's morality, but simply because whether we like him or not, who would believe that Bill Clinton inspired his daughter to join the military?) It would no longer matter how much money the Clintons have made over the past seven years, where the money came from, or that the bulk of their charitable giving was to their own foundation, if Chelsea Clinton were deployed to Iraq, Hillary Clinton would become a sympathetic figure, the mother of a soldier sent to war. Suddenly, Hillary Clinton's stake in the war would not be abstract. Suddenly, she wouldn't have to tell stories about sniper fire which never actually happened, we would know her story, and we would feel we needed to vote for Chelsea's mom.
Of course, it probably won't happen because, well, there is all that stuff we think we know about the Clintons. And Chelsea would have to do this on her own, very much against her mother's wishes, or else it may look like her mother asked her to do this, in which case the spin would be, "what mother sends her child to war in order to further her own ambitions?"
So it probably won't happen.
Which is a shame because I think it might actually be the silver bullet for which the Clinton Campaign seems to have been waiting. Not to mention it may actually encourage other people like her, children of professionals who have no family connection to the military, people with jobs and lives to which they are attached, to think about enlisting themselves. A well publicized act of selflessness might shine a light on our own selfishness.
Labels: Culture, Politics