ServeNext.org Blog

Talking National Service with Potential Presidents

Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on December 7, 2011

Post by Jordan Jones, ServeNext Des Moines:

It’s no fun getting lost on the back roads of rural Iowa on your way to a 2012 Presidential campaign event, but with so much at stake for national service right now I can’t complain. Presidential hopefuls descend upon Iowa in the months preceding our first-in-the-nation caucus and I know it is a great opportunity to get face-to-face contact with them and talk about the importance of national service to Iowa and the entire country. After all, one of these candidates might be the next President of the United States.

My goal is to get national service into the political dialogue and get all of the candidates on the record of where they stand. By being persistent I have been able to engage multiple candidates in conversations about national service and even succeeded in getting press for the issue.

My first encounter with a candidate was with Michele Bachmann at a town hall in Oskaloosa. I was a little nervous, but I was nevertheless able to engage the Congresswoman on the issue. Rep. Bachmann seems to have a strange antipathy towards service (despite her son’s participation in Teach for America) and I wanted to challenge her on some of the facts. The result was what I would call a lively exchange of ideas. Check out the video.

Rather than just write Rep. Bachmann off, I went to a second event where she was speaking at Drake University in Des Moines. I am so glad I went because the event was my biggest success to date.

The Congresswoman evaded my question, but I was able to get something invaluable in politics: press. To my surprise, CNN quoted my question on national service in an online account of the event. And, the very next day, the Des Moines Register did the same thing. You never know what to expect on the campaign trail.

Here is a video from the event (bringing a friend to the event to film made it much easier and I recommend that this to others).

Between all the private fundraisers, debates and television ads, it is easy to forget that average citizens can have an impact on the race just by talking to the candidates. But they definitely can. While a simple question on national service may not change a candidate’s mind, it does get them thinking. And what’s more, it gets people talking, raising awareness about the local impact of national service, and educating folks about the threats facing it.

So get out there and speak up. You really do have an impact. Plus, you might inadvertently wind up on the NBC Nightly News (I’m at 0:27, next to Newt Gingrich).

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2 Responses to “Talking National Service with Potential Presidents”

  1. Gordon Avery said

    Before everyone was made use to holding their hand out and expecting it to be filled by some government agency, which taxed hardworking people out of their hard earned income, people would tutor students for free as a public service, churches would see to the needs of the needy and congregations would help through contributions, students would actually work as apprentices to learn from the masters; I think apprentice has become a dead word. Now students come out of college or straight from high school expecting to be paid top money yet having no experience. If we want this nightmare to change then this economy must change or we will go the way of Greece and fuel will cost $7 or $8 dollars a gallon as the Energy Secretary stated he would like to see happen and our ? In Chief, Obama, said he didn’t mind see happen.

  2. Gordon Avery said

    In what way will this impact the taxes for the people of New Hampshire? With everything at exorbitant levels, from food to fuel for home and vehicles, how can the norm continue? It’s true, for government services to exist they must first take the money from someone else. Those receiving aid from the government can not if first the government does not take it from others. People, by and large, are barely living from paycheck to paycheck. Those on a fixed income, the underemployed, the unemployed feel it the most, but all of us are caught in this economic trap and we must all strive to turn this economic train around or it will take us all into the abyss. Spending must be frozen and/or there must be deep cuts affecting everything. We are $15 trillion plus in debt, an inconceivable amount.

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