Mandating National Service Is Not the Answer

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, one of two Democratic presidential candidates with military service, said that national service will become one of the themes of his campaign and that he hopes to make it — if not legally binding — a social norm. While this is certainly not a new issue, it is not one that has traditionally been discussed as much as it should have.

Between 2003 and 2013, for example, former U.S. Representative Charles Rangel of New York made five unsuccessful attempts to introduce legislation to require all people in the United States, between the age of 18 and 24, to either serve in the military or perform civilian service related to national defense. Similarly, the efforts of Stan McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, to get voters, donors and candidates to work together to make service year a common expectation also fell flat, as did the efforts of the Washington Post editorial board in 2016.

This article was originally published in InsideSources.