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Liberal icon Charlie Rangel (D-NY13) knows a thing or two about military service. When he was twenty he found himself in the still functionally segregated United States Army, in a place called Kunu-ri, Korea, surrounded, with the rest of the Eighth Army, overrun by the masses of the Chinese Red Army. As a result of the Battle of Ch'ongch'ong the entire United Nations command was forced to withdraw from North Korea and Charlie Rangel won a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

So when Charlie Rangel, talks about military service, and being disadvantaged, and the benefits of National Service I'm inclined to sit up and take notice. When Charlie Rangel, well known Liberal, former Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, introduces a bill to not only re-institute the random draft for military service but to compel mandatory two years national service for everyone, male and female, between the ages of eighteen and twenty five, I'm all ears.

H.R. 748 is exactly that bill. As Phil Rizzuto might have said, "And what a bill!"

H. R. 748

To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and
  25 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed
     services or as civilian service in a Federal, State, or local
government program or with a community-based agency or community-based
entity, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services
   during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed
 services, to provide for the registration of women under the Military
             Selective Service Act, and for other purposes.

 photo unclesamneedsyou_zps9593d8ac.jpg

Over the last few years I've noticed an increased presence of Americorps volunteers sprinkled throughout the 'community-based' world. Are they a vanguard? Are they the tip of the spear of how much of Twenty First Century America will gain its generational identity, its social cohesion, from mandatory national service in much the way mid-Twentieth Century America experienced revolutionary social change and mass standardization in the uniformed services and the factories of the WWII effort?

Could this change be the biggest thing to come out of the recent era of social and political polarization? That we defined our parts clearly before we set about another round of mass homogenization? That we could remake America, its social institutions and its physical infrastructure, as we embody the Change we seek?

The New Deal was only possible because the old deal had so spectacularly flopped. The era of increasingly socialized ways of doing things, whether Social Security that provided an economic floor, of the Civilian Conservation Corps or the Works Progress Administration that provided a leg up off the floor, the New Deal and the total war effort, including Rosie putting down her apron and picking up a rivet gun changed life in the United States almost beyond recognition.

Much of the excess suffering of the Great Depression was buffered by reforms implemented during its aftermath. There is much left yet to do.

In what ways will America be different should we institute universal national service? What will be gained? What will be lost? If past experience is any guide, and not just a distraction, post Great Recession America will be a time of incredible change. Corporatism has ridden the tired nag of our Original Sin almost to its extinction, dividing the mass with delusions of 'superiority,' pointing ceaselessly to Black, White, Brown, and Red when the color that mattered was Green. And green.

The cookie cutter of this next wave of change may well focus on increased standardiztion of experience as some numbers will be inducted into military service, too many only high tech cannon fodder for the realization that imperialism's reach has exceeded its grasp, but the remainder? The ninety or ninety-five percent who don't complete their national service in a military uniform but in a 'community based agency'?

What lessons would be learned? What values? My grandfather's generation, the one that left the farm for Paree in WWI, never looked back yet still did not recognize the world of post-WWII.

If we are about to embark on a massive socialization program, what will we be like as a nation when we're done?

Originally posted to one man's hero . . . on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 12:10 PM PST.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Beyond the obvious "I'd like to still be alive" (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, ichibon, myboo, DRo, dannyboy1, drnatrl, starfu

    do you look forward to the end result of this next round of the revolution?

    Please vote for Purple Mountain Institute to win a booth in the Netroots Nation13 Hall Contest

    by DaNang65 on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:59:30 AM PST

  •  It's an interesting concept (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaNang65, VegLane, ichibon, myboo

    but one that I would like to see completely divorced from military service. We need to be scaling down the military, not sending in conscripts.

    But the idea of Public Service is a powerful one.

    I would certainly favour the state paying for advanced education on the premise that the beneficiaries will give back afterwards.

    I'd like to see doctors trained, teachers and other public service workers created, who then spend time repaying their gift, on a salary.

    We could build a national health service, and education service and infrastructure with the input from citizens we have trained and educated.

    Public Service on the widest definition ... It could help cement a better national identity too.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 12:20:28 PM PST

    •  Given that 70% or higher do not now meet the (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg, Utahrd, ichibon, myboo, DRo, dannyboy1

      physical standards for enlistment, and thus are ineligible for military conscription, this bill wouldn't effect the vast majority of Americans. At the same time that one of its purpose seems to be to unwrap the insulation from around the families that support war knowing that none of them and theirs are going to have to go. That's a good thing.

      Incentivizing even more obesity, not so much.

      Please vote for Purple Mountain Institute to win a booth in the Netroots Nation13 Hall Contest

      by DaNang65 on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 12:29:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This discussion opens up a lot of issues for me. (0+ / 0-)

        Another factor disqualifying many young Americans from entering the service involves dropping out of school and having been convicted of a crime. All of the areas that might be affected by legislation to mandate community/military service, by focusing on the age group listed, misses early-stage disadvantages in education, dietary and exercise, and economic opportunity factors that contribute so much to the growth of the population of potentially ineligible young people in the U.S. I agree, as you say, that one of the motivations behind Rangel's seemingly perennial introduction of such legislation is to distribute the sacrifice toward the children of the rich or well-connected. Unlike the commenter who sees him or this action as someone or something increasingly irrelevant, I see more sadness in the fact that a voice within Congress even recognizing inequitable distribution of sacrifice both in war or in community service becoming one "crying out in the wilderness." Funny how many in Congress (and the Administration) pontificate on distribution of sacrifice and pain for budget cuts to programs, many of which are designed to lead to equitable distribution of opportunities for the disadvantaged to advance even slightly along a vertical path. I came out of the Army believing along those same lines, that many of my friends back home would benefit from some form of community or military service. When I met a woman from China during college who was pursuing her doctorate, I listened to her discuss the Chinese program requiring her, a child from an advantaged family, to work and live for two years with an impoverished family on a state-run farm. I'm not trying to equate our system with the Chinese system or advocating for such a strict program as the one she participated in. However, her compassion for those less advantaged than her then, and her orientation in scholarship and dedication to community service and activism here, does suggest that conscription in some kind of service can result in opening up the minds and hearts of people who would otherwise grow up ignorant toward many life (or nowadays virtual) realities different from what they are born into

        I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

        by dannyboy1 on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:59:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good idea in theory (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaNang65, kurt, Chi

    In practice, more NFL luxury box tickets for congressmen provided by defense contractors.

    More $600 hammers purchased by the Department of Defense from companies owned by brothers-in-law of congressmen.

  •  He proposes this in every Congress (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaNang65, stevej, VClib, Chi

    It goes nowhere. And it's time for him to retire.

  •  Oh geez not this again ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He really is getting boring.  He also keeps trying to sell us on more Medicare means testing. Wtf?  Are these the big ideas that the Democratic Party advances?  I think maybe instead of fixating on what is wrong with the GOP, we should be asking the same about Dems.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:41:40 AM PDT

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