Gary Hart backs Serve America ActSubmitted by Answer1984With1776 on Thu, 02/26/2009 - 11:30
Now, in a new time of national peril, rather than considering it a luxury, we need to see national service as a necessity for the rallying of the national community behind our common good and our common goals. No single step would revitalize our fearful national spirit more than a new era of civic republicanism. The single best vehicle to achieve this goal is the proposed Serve America Act sponsored by Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch. This is a genuinely bipartisan response to President Obama's challenge to Americans of all ages to serve the national community.
Building on existing Americorps programs and the National Community Service Act, Serve America would substantially expand opportunities for all age groups, from young people to retired professionals, to provide a year or more of service in community education, health, environment, energy efficiency, and a host of other projects. Young people participating in Serve America would also qualify for financial support to pursue higher education.
Among those hardest hit by a shrinking job market are those just entering the work force. Rather than stay in their parents' home, roam the mean streets, or suffer endless employment rejection, unemployed young people especially can join Serve America to improve their communities and build their own ladders out of economic recession. Creative opportunities such as this are exactly what Barack Obama's standard of "responsibility" is all about.
At a time when so many public needs, from schools to parks, from soup kitchens to retirement homes, are unmet, Serve America is not a "make work" project. It is targeted toward real needs not currently being met by private enterprise or any level of government. The costs of Serve America are minuscule in an age of massive bank bailouts, industrial rescues, and mortgage underwriting.
Resistance to expanded public service programs can be expected from the ideologically sclerotic, those who occupy the negative ground between government as the problem and government as our enemy. These are clearly people unfamiliar with Pericles of even for that matter Thomas Jefferson.
To be a true republican is to recognize the role of civic virtue, participation in the public affairs of the community, and to be among the men and women of whom future generations of Americans will say, they were worthy of their city and their nation.