"Community service" has evolved from something that used to be only an option for punishment under our penal code to an essential part of life for millions. "When it comes right down to it, what you want—what all of us want out of life—are two things: meaning and adventure," Bush once told a group of young people. "You can find what you're looking for helping others. If you walk this path with me, I promise you a life full of meaning and adventure." More Americans than ever are with him on that path.
As Obama said at a Points of Light event in 2009: "In the end, service binds us to each other—and to our communities and our country—in a way that nothing else can. That's how we become more fully American. That's what it means to be American. . . . That's the essence of our liberty—that we give back, freely."
If you are as concerned about the size and scope of government as I am—whether you call yourself a Tea Partyer or just consider yourself a fiscal conservative—you realize that this isn't some quaint call to volunteer. This is about how we can no longer rely solely on government to improve the future for our children or change the quality of life for the most vulnerable. If you think that the role of citizens stepping forward is somehow secondary to getting our country back on track, you don't understand what's working in America and what's not. And you don't understand what liberty really means.