Democratic Presidential candidate John Delaney unveiled an ambitious new campaign policy on Sunday: mandatory national service. The former Maryland Representative’s plan would require any Americans born after 2006 to participate in one of several paths of public service. These include enlisting in the military, participating in community service projects, or joining a planned “Climate Corps.” While seemingly well-intended, the plan would allow the federal government to force young adults to serve their country, sending a clear message to Americans that we cannot even control our own lives.
Delaney’s Reasons Why
In announcing the radical policy plan, Delaney stated that mandatory national service would serve to “restore our sense of shared purpose and rebuild a common and inclusive national destiny.” This is the apex of his plan, despite not being what’s good for Americans and their families. Delaney only cares about what benefits the “country,” which, in the eyes of a politician, is the federal government.
This is not an original talking point. Far-right figures have used the “common purpose” argument to justify war before. Only a week ago, Paul Joseph Watson, a controversial political commentator, made a similar statement on Twitter. Watson, who started working for the fringe media outlet InfoWars in 2002, stated, “War appears to drive down suicide rates, because it gives people common purpose.” However, the chart he used to represent this does not even support his argument. Suicide rates rose still during the entirety of the United States’ occupation of the Middle East.
Delaney’s plan would not limit the national service requirement to military service. The other three options, according to his campaign website, are a “new expanded Community Service program,” “serving in a new National Infrastructure Apprenticeship program,” or “serving in a newly created Climate Corps.” Not only would President Delaney force Americans to serve their government, but he would also force taxpayers to pay for the creation of the programs that enable this to occur.
The Problems of the Plan
John Delaney has not backed his “common purpose” argument with any statistics or rational thought. So, with that argument off the table, what does that leave his national service plan with?
As President, John Delaney promises two years of (in-state only) tuition to a public university or technical school for a year of national service under his plan. This increases to three years of tuition for two years of service. Participating youth would not even receive enough tuition to obtain a bachelor’s degree in many fields. This service would be required after turning 18 and graduating high school. Delaney does also state on his campaign website that the program will be paid for, of course, by taxpayer dollars.
So, for one or two years, you will be required to submit to slavery. You will be compensated by the taxpayers. Delaney’s plan does not, in its current form, provide any opt-out for disabled youth, mental health problems or other debilitating conditions. The plan does not even consider how it would affect the most vulnerable youth of our country.
The Constitution also comes into play here. Under the Thirteenth Amendment, involuntary servitude is only (immorally) allowed when the state convicts an individual of a crime. What crime will Delaney charge the youth of this nation with in an attempt to get his state-sponsored slavery enacted?
John Delaney is making clear what the expectation for Americans would be under his Presidency. By being an American citizen, you must consent to slavery under the guise of national service. Your body is the property of the federal government. This is no different than the draft, which also counts as slavery. Is this part of the ideals that our nation was founded upon? Did our founding fathers not wish to instill the value of self-ownership? Given his poor polling numbers and weak debate performance, John Delaney may not make it to the Iowa caucus. If he does, voters will be able to tell him exactly what Americans think of his plan for slavery.
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