This month, filled with presidential primaries and caucuses, makes me nostalgic and chagrined — but also hopeful.

I’m nostalgic for 2007, when then-candidates Barack Obama and John McCain agreed on the vital importance of national service and endorsed legislation to expand it. In his first inaugural, President Obama set national service as a top priority, pledging “a new era of responsibility.” And on April 21, 2009, he signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, overwhelmingly approved by a bipartisan Congress, which aimed to grow the national service corps from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2025, including people who are 50 and older.

I’m chagrined, because this bipartisan promise has been abandoned by a bitterly partisan Congress. Consistent with earlier cuts and congressional dithering, by 2014 only about a third of the 250,000 volunteer positions “funded” by the act actually existed.

The vision for national service may have withered, but the need for service has never been more acute. [Read the complete op-ed here.]

Originally posted in the Boston Herald.

Published: May 3, 2016

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