Patriot Games

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 Patriotism A 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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