Should national service be required? | The Tylt

Should national service be required?

Presidential hopeful John Delaney believes every American over the age of 18 should be required to serve the country for at least one year. In late July, Delaney became the only Democrat to support a mandatory service requirement, per The Hill. According to Delaney's 2020 campaign, the mandatory service would not only bring people together, but Americans would also enjoy the benefits of two to three years of free tuition at public universities in exchange for the paid service. Others argue mandatory national service is unconstitutional at its core. What do you think?

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Shortly before the July Democratic debates, John Delaney's presidential campaign announced a plan for mandatory national service. Under the plan, all Americans (no exceptions) over the age of 18 would be required to serve the country for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. Per The Hill's Rebecca Klar: 

To meet the service requirements, 18-year-old Americans could choose from one of four options: the military, a community service program, a new National Infrastructure Apprenticeship program or newly created Climate Corps. 

In addition to Americans' paid public service:

Under the proposal, Americans would receive two or three years of free tuition at a public college or university in exchange for one or two years of paid public service. Salary would differ based on regional cost of living. 

According to Delaney, the plan would lay the foundation for a country working towards shared goals:

"It’s time to bring the country together, restore our sense of shared purpose and a common and inclusive national destiny,” Delaney said. “By mandating national service we build a future where young people begin their adult lives serving their country and working alongside people from different backgrounds."
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For many, mandatory national service may call to mind an image of conscription—which is legal under a declaration of war—but a military draft is only one kind of national service. Outside of military need under the pretext of war, The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf argues mandatory national service is unconstitutional. Friedersdorf concedes that Delaney's intentions for bringing the country together are noble, but his methods, problematic:

I’d support all sorts of voluntary initiatives with that purpose in mind. But I am repulsed by the notion that every American can or ought to be united around a single “purpose” or agree on the country’s “destiny,” which even John Adams and Thomas Jefferson could not. And forced labor transgresses against natural rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Such a program proposes many dangers long-term and is a vast overreach by government:

As the legal scholar Ilya Somin once put it, “Mandatory national service is not just another policy proposal. It is an idea that undermines one of the fundamental principles of a free society: that people own themselves and their labor. We are not the property of the government, a majority of the population, or some employer. Mandatory national service is a frontal attack on that principle.”
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There's been a lot of talk regarding the value of a college education in the 21st century. Some experts have offered a return to apprenticeships and trade work as a strategy to alleviate the disparity between needs in the job market and candidates—the so-called "skills gap." Delaney's plan would utilize infrastructure apprenticeships with private companies and trade unions. 

Fast Company's Gwen Moran reports:

Apprenticeships have long been used by manufacturing and the trades to give workers the skills, knowledge, and on-the-job training they need to transition seamlessly into specific roles. Now, in an effort to bridge the skills gap and tap new talent pools, more companies are using the apprenticeship model, partnering with community colleges and four-year higher education institutions as well as nonprofit community organizations, to find workers and ensure they have the precise skills they need to do the job.

By including apprenticeships in his plan, Delaney could be successful in widening career entry points for young people. The country would also certainly benefit from an infrastructure focus. 

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As Reason's Scott Shackford writes, mandatory national service goes against American principles by taking away the freedom of choice:

But we're Americans. We shouldn't have a "sense of shared purpose" and we don't have a common "national destiny," whatever the heck that's supposed to mean. Part of being an American is claiming the right to choose your own adventure and to draw your own map of your future.

According to Shackford, Delaney's idea for national service would do nothing but tear people apart:

It's comically absurd to think that compelling them to do whatever tasks are currently on officials' agendas is going to unify them in any way...Forcing an entire younger generation to do an older generation's bidding will not bring a "sense of shared purpose," any more than drafting them to fight in Vietnam did.
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should national service be required?
#RequireService
A festive crown for the winner
#DontRequireService