“We really want to talk about the threat to social cohesion that helps characterize this presidency but also just this era,” the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “One thing we could do that would change that would be to make it, if not legally obligatory, but certainly a social norm that anybody after they’re 18 spends a year in national service.”
Buttigieg mentioned that for him as well as several former presidents, including John F. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush, serving in the military allowed them to meet and build trust with people of starkly different backgrounds, education and income. Buttigieg served in the Navy from 2009 to 2017, including a deployment to Afghanistan. Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) are the only current Democratic presidential candidates who are veterans.
Buttigieg was vague about what would constitute national service, but both he and Maddow acknowledged it would most likely not be a military draft. Without saying the program would be mandatory, Buttigieg did suggest colleges and employers ask applicants about participation in it.