Pledging to make public service a hallmark of her would-be administration, Democrat Hillary Clinton proposed Friday a 5 million-member “national service reserve” project that would train Americans to respond to natural disasters, health emergencies and other crises.
The program, Mrs. Clinton said, would allow citizens to continue working in their full-time jobs but essentially would put them on call if state or local governments need more bodies.
“If you join the national service reserve, you will receive some basic training, just like you would in the military reserves. And then when your city or state needs you, you’ll get the call,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally in Florida. “Say a natural disaster strikes and the Red Cross needs all hands on deck, or maybe like the water crisis in Flint [Michigan], and clean water has to be distributed every day to a lot of families. Or maybe your city launches a major public health campaign to reduce drug abuse or promote mental health. You will then be sent into action.”
Mrs. Clinton did not talk about how much it would cost to establish and run such a program, nor did she say where the money would come from. She said her goal would be to have 5 million members spread across all 50 states.
“We will have an open door to people of all ages, but we want to put a special focus on people under 30 who have said again and again they want to have a bigger impact in their communities, but they can’t leave their jobs, understandably,” Mrs. Clinton said.
The former first lady contrasted her call to public service with the “strongman approach” of her opponent, Republican Donald Trump. Mrs. Clinton said she believes that America works best when citizens volunteer in their own communities, and that working together is the best approach to solving problems.
Mr. Trump, she charged, instead believes only he is capable of addressing the nation’s challenges.
“We’ve learned that’s his way,” she said. “One person getting supreme power and exercising it ruthlessly.”