Patriot Games

Clark and Kerry promote duelling national service programs


| October 2003


In an October 14 speech at Hunter College, General Wesley Clark unveiled what appears to be the cornerstone of his campaign, an ambitious new national service program.

The plan, dubbed 'New American Patriotism' (which also serves as Clark's campaign slogan), calls for 'an administration that unites our country and works with the world community, and it calls all Americans to action in order to make the commitments and sacrifices to meet these historic challenges.' Evocative and inspirational, the plan is also vaguely familiar.

A similar initiative by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, 'A New Army of Patriots,' which would 'enlist citizens in the cause of a safer, stronger, and more secure America,' touches on nearly identical themes and circumstances. Which candidate has the more compelling plan? Compare and decide for yourself.

New American PatriotismA New Army of Patriots
Would reverse President Bush's promised expansion and subsequent cuts to Americorps.Would reverse President Bush's promised expansion and subsequent cuts to Americorps with a 'national goal of half a million servers a year in the next ten years.'
Draws on the 'ingenuity of ordinary citizens without creating a new bureaucracy' via a proposed Citizens Reserve.Protects Americans with 'more than a bureaucracy in Washington,' but rather, 'servers that will work with and in addition to firefighters, police and other first defenders.'
Enhances 'the service component of college work-study programs.'Offers a 'Service for College' initiative in which students earn 'the equivalent of their state's four-year public college tuition in exchange for two years of service.' Money not spent at state schools can be applied to job training, starting a small business or purchasing a home. Furthermore, graduates with college debt can serve two years after college to repay outstanding student loans.
Will only draw on the Civilian Reserve in times of natural disaster, terrorist attacks, and 'nation building.' Under 'rare circumstances' the president would have congressionally permitted authority to 'precipitate mandatory call-up' of 5,000 or more reservists with a maximum service of 6 months.Utilizes children and seniors to contribute community service in exchange for educational grants and supplemental healthcare grants retrospectively.
Provides 'additional funds to train first responders, like fire fighters and police.'Enlists young people 'to protect our nation from future terror attacks' via the expansion of Police Corps, an educational program that pays officers for their education in exchange for their work commitment after graduation.
Will 'supplement, but not supplant' existing non-government, nonprofit systems and organizations.Does not 'supplant successful efforts,' but rather, create 'a new national commitment to help leverage and expand community efforts across the country.'

-- Erin Ferdinand

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