If Romney Wins–There Goes the Peace Corps!

I think that we can be assured of massive changes in the Peace Corps Administration, the size and scope of the agency, and where PCVs will go next,  given a Romney Administration.

Unlike some former presidents, Romney has no historical connections to the Peace Corps. Yes, he was a missionary for the Mormon Church as a young man, but not to a developing country. He was in France! He didn’t, therefore, see the world where Peace Corps Volunteers lived and served. He did not share the adventures of being a young person in another society, though some might say the Left Bank had a lot to teach Mitt.

Also, as a Republican, he had no ‘Kennedy Legacy’ blowing at his back. The Peace Corps was ‘their’ program, Romney might say, not ours.

During the Nixon Administration, Fat Pat Buchanan and others Right Wingers attempted to close the agency down, given their hatred of the Kennedys and liberal ideas. Loret Ruppe, as a Republican and the Peace Corps Director for almost a decade, kept the agency open and under the Republican radar, holding at bay those in the Reagan’s Administration who wanted the Peace Corps dead and buried. The bottom line is that there is no natural connection between the Peace Corps and what PCVs do and the Republicans and what they want to undo!

So, the Peace Corps Agency could be on the cutting block given a Romney win.

But I doubt very much that that will happen. Yes, Romney wants (needs) and will cut the federal budget, and the Peace Corps is on the ‘soft underbelly’ of the government. Tea Party Folks and other right-wingers see no advantage in helping a lot of foreigners better their lives.

But my guess is that Romney won’t close us down. The Peace Corps is, after all, mom’s apple pie, and there are ‘political’ reasons in some countries for Mitt to keep us alive-and-well.  We are, after all, cheap AID. The number of PCVs overseas will, however, decline dramatically, that’s a given.

Our current levels is plus seven thousand, I’d say within two years, the Agency will return to those Golden Republican Years of YesterYear, with a total of less than four thousand. Romney is not going to diminish the military, that’s for sure. We need more troops, as he sees it, in Afghanistan.

There is only one way that this might not happen! If some bright young person in  his new administration whispers to Romney that the way to ‘help’ lower unemployment in the U.S. would be to increase dramatically the number of Volunteers serving overseas. Why we might see example of an ‘American Surge!’. Give Kid Out of College a Job! Get them off City Street! Send them to Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the Peace Corps! Yes, it might raise the debt ceiling a notch, but it would lower unemployment here at home. You never know. Mitt could be the Peace Corps’ first real Sugar Daddy!

Something to think about when you’re in the Voting Booth.

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  • Listening to Romney in the debate talk about “free enterprise” and all that we have to do is bring American values to the Muslim countries. I suddenly hear RPCV Charles A. Murray promoting the values of the upper middle class in Belmont, MA, one of many Romney’s “home towns.” Belmont was the ideal neighborhood described in Murray’s new book, “Coming Apart: The state of White America, 1960 -2010”.

    I can see Murray being appointed to head a “new” Peace Corps – one that is “evangelizing” American values. I can see a “test” to make sure that potential PC Volunteers have the “right” American values.

  • John..A converse to the unemployment theory is the Peace Corps could use foreign nationals as they are cheaper . This is also a possability like the State Department and Military…the irony of no troops in Iraq ( where I am working) is the security companies ( american owned) employe foreign nationals ( cheaper.) Romney could keep the Peace Corps ( apple pie theory) , reduce the expenditure ( make Congress happy) and keep “hope alive!”

    Sadly, our RPCV’s numbers are still too small (200,000+) unless you all live in Ohio . JFK believed if we had a 100,000 PCV’s a year , we could become a voting bloc! A long way to go, JFK.

  • When I returned from the Peace Corps in 1964 I was invited with a few other RPCVs to meet with Mitt’s father George in the governor’s office in the Michigan state capitol. Governor Romney wondered if returned PCVs would somehow be useful to Michigan. At one point, after we described experiences in Nepal, Africa, and elsewhere, he said, “I know just what you’ve been through, because I was a missionary in Wales when I was your age.”

  • Well…. not that I would like to see Romney as President… I must say, however, that Peace Corps hasn’t done all that well under Obama either…

    The additional budget for PC is attributable almost entirely to non-Peace Corps efforts… and the management of Peace Corps has been ‘lack-luster’.

    If Obama is re-elected, might we expect better…?

  • @Dennis Grub.

    When you speak of “foreign nationals,” I am not sure what you mean. If you are talking about hiring HCNs to manage Peace Corps overseas operations, that is already being done. As of June 30, 2012, Peace Corps overseas employees numbered 2932. Of that number, 64 were US citizens.

    @Ken Hill,

    I don’t think we could expect anything better in a second Obama administration. My only contact with a political appointee has been with the Director of Peace Corps Response, a non-RPCV Washington lawyer from the Obama for America political organization. She opened up the Peace Corps Response to non-RPCVs; would not put the disclaimer about previous employment in intelligence gathering agencies on the public website, put it instead inside the application; contracted with Global Health to send doctors and nurses overseas and arranged for them to be reimbursed up to $30,000 per year to repay educational expenses. I presume that she had Williams’ approval for all of this.

    Finally, the creator of the “public-private” partnership between Global Health and Peace Corps, Vanessa Kerry, said on NPR that Peace Corps did NOT send nurses or doctors overseas because they lacked the technical capacity to do so. She must have gotten that idea from someone.

    I think that Volunteers are finally going to wind up as “unpaid” interns for AID and NGOs, after more than fifty years of avoiding those boxes.

  • “… no natural connection between the Peace Corps and what the PCVs do and the Republicans and what they want to undo.” I am an RPCV who was just back in my country of service, Ethiopia, with 100 other RPCVs and companions renewing my knowledge of the country and its people. I am a Republican and now working on the Romney campaign. Am I unnatural?

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