Barack Obama’s disturbing proposal for “universal voluntary public service” (as Michael Kinsley pointed out, it can either be universal or voluntary, but not both) just got a lot more traction with the selection of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. J.D. Tuccille observes that Emanuel is a long-time proponent of compulsory national service. Emanuel is co-author of the 2006 book The Plan, which includes the following:
It’s time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service. …
Here’s how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They’ll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we’re hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities’ most pressing needs.
Tuccille also notes that Emanuel dismisses the whiners who “will squeal about individual freedom.” (That would be us.) It sounds universal all right, but not exactly voluntary.