Thinking Citizen Blog — Is Mandatory National Service a Good Idea?
Thinking Citizen Blog — Sunday is Political Process, Campaign Strategy, and Candidate Selection Day
Today’s Topic: Is Mandatory National Service a Good Idea?
Compulsion is bad, right? The draft is bad enough in wartime. But a peacetime draft-equivalent? Could there be a worse idea? Or not? Is it in fact a great idea? Today, a few excerpts of an article by an historian, Jonathan Holloway, formerly of Yale University, and now President of Rutgers, Also, a little background information on the CCC and VISTA precedents. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE BEST MEDICINE FOR THE TOXIN OF POLARIZATION ?
1. “If we broadened out audiences, perhaps we would see the fallacy of claims that all Republicans are committed to voter suppression and that all Democrats are committed to voter fraud.”
2. “There are many problems in America, but fundamental to so many of them is our unwillingness to learn from one another, to see and respect one another, to become familiar with people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and who hold different political views.”
3. “It will take work to repair this problem, but building blocks exist. A good foundation would be a one-year mandatory national service program.”
HOW WOULD IT WORK? THREE EXAMPLES
1. “Universal national service would include one year of civilian service or military service for all adults to be completed before they reach the age of 25, with responsibilities met domestically or around the world.”
2. “It would channel the conscience of the Civilian Conservation Corps and put young people in the wilderness repairing the ravages of environmental destruction.”
3. “It would draw on the lessons of the Peace Corp and dispatch young Americans to distant lands where they would understand the challenges of poor countries and of people for whom basic health and nutrition are aspirational goals.”
NB: “It would draw on the success of our military programs that in the past created pathways toward financial stability and educational progress for those with limited resources while serving as great unifiers among America’s races, religions, and societal classes.”
HISTORICAL PRECEDENTS — the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA )
1. The CCC was part of FDR’s New Deal and ran from 1933 to 1942, in which three million young men participated. The original ages targeted were 18 to 25 but this was expanded to 17 to 28. The program ended with Pearl Harbor and the military draft.
2. VISTA was part of LBJ’s Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
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