Candidates' positions are categorized as Pro (Yes), Con (No), Not Clearly Pro or Con, or None Found. Candidates who have changed their positions are listed as Now their most recent position. Candidates are listed by party and in alphabetical order by last name. Black & white photos indicate candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria for inclusion.
Should the US require mandatory national service in the form of a draft or required civil service?
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, stated the following during a CNN-hosted Democratic presidential debate held on July 23, 2007 in Charleston, SC, and transcribed and posted by nytimes.com:
"I think that if women are registered for service -- not necessarily in combat roles, and I don’t agree with the draft -- I think it will help to send a message to my two daughters that they’ve got obligations to this great country as well as boys do." July 23, 2007 Barack Obama
Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, stated the following at a Sep. 9, 2007 town hall event in New Hampshire:
“I like the idea of providing opportunities for young people to serve… I love the opportunity to see voluntary service. But I’m not ready to lay out what that will look like. I will continue to support the programs that have been effective and see if we can’t find greater opportunities for young people to serve. Wouldn’t it be great if larger and larger numbers of the kids in this country, when I say kids, young adults in this country, were able to spend a year or two in service. I didn’t have that experience in serving my country, but I had the chance to serve my church. I was in France for two and a half years. What’s interesting is it was a great maturing time for me, where I gained perspective on some of the benefits of being an American, on some of the values that are most important to me.” Sep. 9, 2007 Mitt Romney
[Editor's Note: Mitt Romney said the following in a Sep. 14, 2005 speech at the Heritage Foundation titled "Homeland Security: Status of Federal, State and Local Efforts:" "I do not believe in the draft. That's totally unnecessary." His oppostion to a draft and his support of voluntary (vs. mandatory) civil service led us to categorize his position as con to our question.]
Ron Paul, US Representative (R-TX), stated the following in his 2011 book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedoms:
"Do we own our own bodies and ourselves? We do, and it is based on this belief that we, as a country and society, reject slavery... In the same way, moral law should be all that is needed to prohibit the state from forcing certain individuals into involuntary servitude in the military for the purpose of waging wars against an enemy, real or imaginary...
Conscription should never be part of a free society. It's not permitted in the United States since our Constitution does not provide the authority to force someone into involuntary duty to fight a war. Slavery is precisely forbidden, and that's what involuntary service is." 2011 Ron Paul