About the nomineee, politics and pathways to a better future
Now comes the hard part. Barack Obama has moved up from being underdog to the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party by humbling the Party’s first family of Hillary and Bill Clinton. Hopefully, the somewhat narcissistic focus of Primary season watchers on the Democratic Party’s internal squabbles will now widen to issues that really matter for America and the world.
Yes, some of the squabbling was unseemly since it involved a white woman from America’s equivalent of royalty, however common her origin, and a half-black man whose grandfather was an illiterate goat-herder in a remote African village and whose father studied by candlelight as a boy.
Both Hilary and Barack are American success stories. They could not have happened in any other country. That should make all Americans proud, whatever further below-the-belt punches are delivered during another internecine struggle to influence the choice of Vice-Presidential running mate.
This operetta could turn into an operatic tragedy for the American nation as well as the Democrats, if the supporters of Hilary and Barack continue their wars of religion. Their fervor so far has been intense and disconcerting. Nothing was out of bounds and even bloggers tore at one another’s throats through the ether like the floating warriors of a Chinese cinematic saga.
Now, it is time to end all of that for the hard part is yet to come. The forthcoming election is not about Barack and John McCain and their running mates. It is about the role of America and Americans in the 21st century world. This century has begun badly for both the country and its citizens as participants in the world’s family of nations.
For the past half century, Americans have relied on their dollar wealth and their country’s awful military might to establish leadership in world affairs. Both are found to have feet of clay since 2002. The king is not quite naked but will get there soon, if attitudes continue unchanged.
American leadership and human values brought lasting peace to Europe after World War II and set up the kernel of a global community through the grand concept of a United Nations. They have worn so thin in recent years that nobody, not even loyal Britain, agrees with or follows the White House’s lead. Other Europeans and the governments of other continents are farther still from the American world view.
This is an untenable situation because Americans are no longer protected from the world by their two great oceans. Undeniably, issues vital for America and Americans include energy sufficiency and pricing; the frequency of climate-related catastrophes; global financial speculation, a sick dollar and inefficient risk assessment; the dangerous volatility of commodity and food prices; the burgeoning cost of health care and disease prevention; and the declining quality of basic and higher education.
Each of these issues affects domestic USA and the health, safety and livelihood of most readers of this space. None has an exclusively American or nationalistic solution. Nothing that Americans can do on their own can solve or significantly dampen the bite of these issues. Their impacts are not merely economic or social. They also directly affect the human security and homeland security of the US.
Overlaying these perils are the botched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the very foggy war against terrorism. In addition, the military and economic rise of Russia and China hold menace of new Cold Wars, while Islamic terrorism could trigger a very long drawn-out clash of civilizations.
The above is just a first summary of the most noticeable challenges facing this country. Despite its vast wealth, the US is no longer rich enough to buy its way out of any of these problems nor is it militarily strong enough to intimidate into submission those who challenge it.
The main reasons are that many others in the world are becoming richer and militarily stronger by the day. With each passing year the choices become starker —either all of us talk and get along somehow or all may have to face Armageddon through nuclear war, climate change or some new disease.
On its own, America no longer has the strength required to police the world. However, it does still have the huge reservoirs of creative thinking needed to seed the globe with processes capable of nurturing peace, health and prosperity. The missing ingredient is trust both among Americans and with other countries. The only requirement is to stop fighting at home.
The starting point is to end the fratricide within the Democratic Party. Without that, the Presidential nominee or Hilary Clinton will not be free to think beyond the self-absorbed blinkers of their supporters.