Non Serviam


Gene Healy on tonight's planned McCain/Obama-rama in which they will compete to see which one thinks Americans need to serve a larger cause longer and harder. He especially emphasizes Sen. McCain's disturbingly militaristic view of appropriate national service:

In an October 2001 Washington Monthly article, McCain displayed what Matt Welch has called his "essentially militaristic conception of citizenship." He praised City Year, an AmeriCorps initiative operating in 13 cities: "City Year members wear uniforms, work in teams, learn public speaking skills, and gather together for daily calisthenics, often in highly public places such as in front of city hall." He also endorsed the National Civilian Community Corps, "a service program consciously structured along military lines," in which enrollees "not only wear uniforms and work in teams… but actually live together in barracks on former military bases." McCain calls for expanding these two initiatives and "spread[ing] their group-cohesion techniques to other AmeriCorps programs." But perhaps we can take heart in McCain's grudging admission that "it is not currently politically practicable to revive the draft."

Healy rightly notes how even dragging presidential candidates into a public discussion on this topic furthers the anti-American notion that all that's good and right about civic life must have some Washington nexus.

The event is sponsored by the private (so far…) organization "Service Nation."

See Healy's great June reason cover story "The Cult of the Presidency," and Healy's book of the same title.