As a college student, I experience the consequences of our polarized nation every day. I attend a university that is more socioeconomically diverse than many, but 57% of my fellow students have family incomes in the top 20%. More than half the students in my class of 2022 are from the blue states of Massachusetts, New York, California, New Jersey and Connecticut. I’ve yet to meet a publicly pro-Trump student on campus.
It’s hard for me and my fellow students to understand our country’s problems and its sources if we don’t meet people with different views and experiences than our own. If we are to truly overcome our divides and understand each other better, we need to figure out ways to get citizens to move out of their “bubbles” and interact regularly with a wider variety of their fellow citizens.
This is the motivation behind “national service” programs, famously called for by President John F. Kennedy with his Peace Corps proposal. They are now a staple for politicians, including in the 2020 presidential race. Democrat Pete Buttigieg, for example, proposes a “New Call to Service” plan that says national service is “essential to fashioning a common character.”