Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Presidential Forum on National Service

Not the leading image you'd expect on a vigorously non-partisan government blog, is it? But here's the deal: one of these men will almost certainly be our next President of the United States (and, as a government employee, my boss). So it was with great interest that I watched them discuss issues of volunteerism and national service this evening in a forum sponsored by TIME. Regardless of politics, as a volunteer program manager I'm gratified to see the two major party candidates united in their support of volunteerism --and their belief that it's one of the things that makes this nation strong.

I'm hoping to excerpt some of the comments most relevant to volunteerism on public lands, as soon as I can find a transcript posted online. Anyone know where to find one?

P.S. Turns out, our close partner SCA is involved with this forum. Check out their Conservation Nation blog entries (so far) here and here.

P.P.S. A transcript has now been posted. Here are some choice quotes:

"So I’m very pleased at the volunteer effort in America. I’m very pleased at what we’ve seen around this country, particularly as we’re in difficult times. I think we can be proud of Americans. And obviously, if we need to take some steps to encourage that or make it easier for them, I’m all for it." - Senator John McCain

"I think that as much as I treasure our military service, there’s lots of ways to serve our country, too. And I want to emphasize that. I know we’re talking a lot about the military. But there’s so many ways to serve this country and there’s so many ways that are noble and wonderful, both at home and abroad. So I want to make that perfectly clear. I think that it’s very clear AmeriCorps has been one of the astonishing successes. Peace Corps, we’ve seen the success for a long time, because Jack Kennedy obviously originated it. But we have seen these volunteer organizations succeed. And if we need to, whether it’s connected to the military or not, provide them with sufficient reward and sufficient recognition. You know, a lot of these young people are more proud of the fact that we recognize the ones walking around with the red jacket that say 'City Year' than they are about the money. You know? I mean, that’s what they’re all about. So I’d be glad to reward them as much as possible. But you want to be careful that the reason is not the reward of financial or other reasons, but the reward is the satisfaction of serving a cause greater than yourself. That would be fine with me. Finding new ways to serve. That’s what this next few years should be all about." - Senator John McCain

"America is the greatest country on earth. But it didn’t just happen on its own. It’s not a gift only, although it is a great blessing that we’ve received. It is also a responsibility. Part of what makes America work is the fact that we believe in individual responsibility and self-reliance, but we also believe in mutual responsibility, in neighborliness, in a sense that we are committed to something larger than ourselves. Now, that can express itself in a whole range of ways, but what has built this country is people sense, through voluntary associations, but also through public service in government, that we have commitments that extend beyond our immediate self-interest, that aren’t always motivated by profit, that aren’t simply short-term, that we’re thinking long-term, to the next generation. Every bit of progress that we’ve made historically is because of that kind of active citizenship." - Senator Barack Obama

"You know, when I think about the choice I made as a 23-, 24-year-old, to spend three years working with churches, to help people help themselves, no insult to the president of this fine institution, but it was the best education I ever had because it taught me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they’re given a chance and when they’re brought together. And that’s something I want to encourage for every young person. I want every young person around this country to recognize they will not fulfill their full potential until they hitch their wagon to something bigger." - Senator Barack Obama

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Service Nation TV page has videos of the forum and summit.