Barack Obama

Non Serviam

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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.

NEXT: The Eternal Return of Ron Paul

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  1. I absolutely oppose the draft and a draft for civilian service sounds even more crapendous. Something about people in uniforms, doing calisthenics in front of City Hall, on there way to ‘do good’ to the unsuspecting all sounds very brownshirty.

  2. Reason writer links to a blog post that quotes another Reason writer…head spinning…

  3. A draft is certainly a bad idea, not least because the professional military doesn’t like it.

    OTOH, I’m not sure why it’s “disturbing” to view serving in the military as appropriate national service.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080911/ap_on_el_pr/mccain_vietnam_video_7

  4. A draft is certainly a bad idea, not least because the professional military doesn’t like it.

    OTOH, I’m not sure why it’s “disturbing” to view serving in the military as appropriate national service

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080911/ap_on_el_pr/mccain_vietnam_video_7

  5. I can’t wait:

    Obama: “I will wear a uniform and serve the entire world.”

    McCain: “I will wear two uniforms, do calisthenics at the Lincoln Memorial, and serve our entire galaxy for the rest of my life.”

    Obama: “Oh yeah? I will wear three uniforms, run around the Washington Monument 911 times every day (to commemorate 9/11), and serve the entire universe for the rest of my life, which will be longer than you because I am younger.”

    McCain: “My soul will wear a uniform and serve all possible universes for eternity.”

    Obama: “Damn.”

  6. By the way, I find your reference to a “larger cause longer and harder” to be both racist and sexist.

  7. “Longer and Harder”

    That’s what she said.

  8. It’s going to be a snoozefest like Saddleback.

  9. The one time you actually need al Qaeda they’re nowhere to be found.

  10. “My soul will wear a uniform and serve all possible universes for eternity.”

    If McCain figures out how to Ascend, we are in trouble.

  11. You know what’s odd? Reason has still, two months later, not mentioned this Barack Obama proposal.

    In fact, that was even after Volokh.com and even the NYT mentioned it, and after I posted that link in comments at the following among others. Why, it’s almost like Reason is trying to paper over BHO’s wacky ideas or something.

    reason.com/blog/show/127839.html
    reason.com/blog/show/127742.html
    reason.com/blog/show/127700.html
    reason.com/blog/show/127649.html
    reason.com/blog/show/127590.html

  12. Hey OLS, tell us about the Bilderberg Group.

  13. “it is not currently politically practicable to revive the draft.”

    Yeah, because since Vietnam, people haven’t been wiling to put up with such a blatant violation of the thirteenth amendment.

    -jcr

  14. SERVICE GUARANTEES CITIZENSHIP

  15. …would you like to know more?

  16. My humble recommendations for public service uniforms here. NSFW. I’ll be in front of city hall.

  17. Mr. Rasczak, I want to join the Federal Service and become a citizen. But my Dad thinks I should go to college and remain a civilian as he has. What should I do?

  18. You know what’s odd? Reason has still, two months later, not mentioned this Barack Obama proposal.

    Except for when they have.

    Change We Can Believe In?

    -You have called for a “civilian national security force,” essentially a non-military public service corps that in your words is “just as powerful, just as strong,” and “just as well-funded” as the military. Northwestern University law professor James Lindgren has estimated that your proposal would cost somewhere between $100 and $500 billion-or between 10 and 50 percent of all federal income tax revenues. How do you plan to pay for this program?

  19. I stand corrected! Reason did indeed mention BHO’s plan, in an obscure article almost a full month after I discussed it.

    I’m sending a cookie to Radley Balko, he earned it.

  20. What do you expect, OLS? It’s not like Palin said it or anything…

  21. You clicked the link?!? FOR SHAME!

  22. BTW, what Reason article is not obscure?

  23. For some reason, The LoneWacko reminds me of…

    “Ah, the Gentleman Guppy. You’re like a turd that won’t flush.”

  24. Both of these stooges have disturbing ideas about what the people need to do to prove they love their country or to serve the greater good, or to do their part for the community, when, to quote that other famous lefty douche, “All she wants to do is dance!” (Mister Friedman would argue that by dancing she does, in fact, serve the greater good).

    Incidentally, when I pressed my mother, an Obama supporter regarding his calls for national service and their vague policy implications, she was in total support. I asked her (a baby boomer), whether she felt that compulsory service was ethical, and she did, further more, when I asked her if taken to its extreme, were I a teen and drafted, would she support those policies then. She hesitated, and actually gave the condition, “As long as it’s Obama” – I’m paraphrasing, but she basically said that she’d sacrifice her child to the state, as long as it was liberal. This woman went to an Ivy league school and in her youth saw Lyndon Johnson escalate the Vietnam War beyond her own moral comprehension. All bets are off.

  25. “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.”

    And do they then march through the city in formation, chanting Party slogans, smashing windows, and otherwise terrorizing the infidels?

  26. Hey ‘wacko, that was the first I’d seen of that; thanks for bringing it up to our attention (again).

  27. I’m waiting for the candidates to explain how working Americans aren’t *already* serving their country, and why the fact they do it in order to put a roof over their heads makes it dirty or something.

  28. What a surprise. How shocking that Reason chooses to emphasize McCain’s views, even though his opponent is the only one seeking to make national service mandatory. I am quietly awaiting this site’s eventual and inevitable endorsement of Barack Obama.

  29. Rhywun – it’s the politicians variant of the underwear gnomes plan:

    1: Profit!
    2: ?????
    3: Evil!!!

  30. “Why, it’s almost like Reason is trying to paper over BHO’s wacky ideas or something.’

    Gee what gave you that impression. Could it be the fact that there is next to no negative mentions of Obama on this site, even though he is the most statist candidate in the history of the republic. I guess if someone from Reason had written a book about Obama, we would be seeing it a lot more, right Matt Welch?

  31. There is one cause greater than me that I serve: Individualism

  32. “And do they then march through the city in formation, chanting Party slogans, smashing windows, and otherwise terrorizing the infidels.”

    Why does every site have to have an idiot who inevitably compares everything to either the Nazis or terrorists?

  33. You clicked the link?!? FOR SHAME!

    Many times, that’s what the fuck life is … one vile fucking task after another. /Al Swearengen

  34. There is one cause greater than me that I serve: Individualism

    uhh…does not compute.

  35. I have a great idea for a t-shirt. Just like the vaguely Soviet-looking Hope shirt, you replace the tricolor head of Obama with a bottle of beer and below it the word, “Hops”.

    See how many hipsters loose their famously ironic sense of humor upon seeing that at a party.

  36. Salty Bulldog-

    An Ivy is more likely to support collectivism, not less.

  37. TAO-

    You read my posts. I would understand your comment if Joe or Leftii had posted what I did.

  38. It is entirely appropriate for Reason to attack McCain more than Obama.

    Everyone who reads Reason is already aware that the Democrat Party is a pack of statists.

    It is the fact that the GOP is dominated by statist, Peronist scum that needs to be drummed into the heads of some members of the audience daily, until they stop denying it.

  39. libertymike – I just found it kinda ironic that the cause higher than yourself is the liberation of…the self.

    Would you die for individualism? now THAT would be interesting.

  40. “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.”

    Creepy. What more need be said?

  41. TAO-

    I would lay down my life in service to the cause of crushing collectivism and all of its progeny.

  42. You know what’s odd? Reason has still, two months later, not mentioned this Barack Obama proposal.

    Maybe it’s the way you aks. Hey, if even I can get reason to blog a news story or two, I’m guessing it’s your approach. Try saying “Please”.

  43. Fluffy-

    Amen. The GOP die hards that still sing the small govenrment tune are amongst the most obtuse-though no more than the donkey die hards who shout that their party champions the working man.

  44. Would you die for individualism?

    I’d die for mine.

  45. I wish we could get a presidential candidate with the stones to look these creepy moderators in the eye when asked if they’d support mandatory national service and say, “Absolutely not. We live in a free country, and the 13th Amendment forever banned involuntary servitude.”

  46. “Would you die for individualism?

    I’d die for mine.”

    Any fool can die for something. The real question is what you are willing to kill for.

  47. The real question is what you are willing to kill for.

    Comment space isn’t big enough.

  48. “The real question is what you are willing to kill for.”

    Well – guys snoring in hotels really pisses me off…

  49. Setting aside the fact that both generally suck, which candidate’s promising mandatory national service (indoctrination)? Right. Less sandbagging for Obama/Biden, please.

  50. No matter what the statist & the socialist are currently promising, both clearly lust after this sort of enslavement. They probably both (correctly) think it can be used for propaganda purposes. There’s no difference in what they want, and both “major” party candidates flip flop so much on so many issues that promises are meaningless.

  51. “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.”

    Is it just me, or does this sound totally, well, Maoist? For the life of me I can’t see how this isn’t based on a Chinese model.

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