Today the entire world watches nervously while voters fill the ballot boxes of America. Few intelligent people -- of whatever political stripes -- disagree that this is one of the most important elections in the history of the American Republic. Given the power, wealth and cultural importance of the United States, our next president's choices will directly and significantly impact the lives of every person on our planet. This election, in short, is a very big deal.
We are not a partisan site -- not because we don't have a variety of strongly held political views, but because we're trying here to be part of creating a different kind of conversation about the future: a conversation more about solutions than problems, more about collaboration than conflict, more about tools than talking points, more about the tomorrow's planet than today's politics.
Because when it comes to solving the real problems facing this planet, neither party in American politics can claim the high ground, or even, to put it bluntly, much grounding in reality at all. In this first presidential election of the 21st Century, a realistic understanding of the problems we face as a planet and the role the U.S. could and should play in solving them should have been a matter of daily debate. Instead, we've gotten saber-rattling and name-calling. But pandering to the worst inclinations of the American electorate doesn't make any of us safer or the world more stable. This year, the entire political establishment has failed grotesquely to speak plainly about the objective realities of the world.
We can do better. We must do better. Regardless of who is elected president today, we must now begin to forge a reality-based plan for the planet.
In that spirit, we'd like to offer some observations about the kind of questions to which we must begin to find answers. Perhaps we can all mull them over as we watch the returns tonight.
What kind of world is it that we want? Do we want a world which reflects or insults the fundamental values we hold dear: freedom, justice, fairness, cooperation, wise debate and a feeling of duty towards the future?
A billion people now live in conditions of appalling poverty. What can we can do to help them? How can we make sure that the United Nations Millennium Development Goals are met quickly, fairly, effectively and with a minimum of corruption and waste?
Four billion people live in parts of the developing world which are neither wealthy nor in complete collapse. Most of them live in megacities, and are rapidly becoming part of the global economy. How can we help them find a model of development which leads them to sustainable prosperity by "leapfrogging" old, out-dated technologies? How can we make certain that the benefits of emerging technologies gain the widest, fairest distribution, while paying close attention to cultural difference and the voices of caution? How can we create a new global trade and financial regime to replace the "Washington Consensus" which has become so objectionable to so many -- how can we create a system for fair trade and global stability which gets us leapfrogging towards the top rather than racing each other to the bottom?
One half of the people on this planet are under 30; one third are under 15. Most of them live in the developing world. How can we address the vast unemployment, despair and cynicism that face this new global baby boom? How can we convince the next generation that America still holds dear Thomas Jefferson's injunction that our business is not with power, but light? How can we support the creation of the opportunities, connections, capital and ideas which will allow them to prosper -- a Marshall Plan for the next generation?
Billions of people live under oppressive regimes, or at the mercy of warlords, crime bosses and petty tyrants; tens of millions are driven from their homes each year; millions more experience the terrors of genocide and civil war; while the entire world is fears and despises the rise of terrorists and organized crime. How can we create realistic defense and foreign policies -- policies which will protect us here at home by both relentlessly pursuing criminals and constantly working to promote democracy, transparency and human rights? How can we become a country which is actively involved in improving, reforming and empowering needed international institutions from the United Nations and International Criminal Court to the Landmines Ban and Geneva Convention?
Tens of millions are dying each year from preventable, curable or treatable diseases. HIV/AIDS is decimating Africa. Public health officials worldwide are concerned that the next plague may be right around the corner. Tens of millions of women still do not have access to family planning. How can we rebuild an international public health and reproductive care system capable of both tackling the massive problems we face today and preventing the disasters we fear tomorrow?
Our climate is changing due to the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. How can develop and distribute clean energy sources and more efficient technologies in time to prevent the worst extremes of weather violence -- extremes which may threaten the livelihoods of billions of people?
How can we lead and inspire other nations to protect the worlds wild places and animals? How will we preserve and enhance the planet's biodiversity and ecosystem services?
How do we change the American education system and reform the American media to produce American citizens able to both understand their responsibilities as global systems and compete innovatively in a global economy?
How do we begin, tomorrow?
Let's get real:
Nothing positive will happen until Bush and his cronies are tossed out. Institutionalized denial of change and the need to adapt is their chief selling point.
The only way you'd even get them to *recognize* an environmental problem is if it bites them personally in the ass, perhaps in the form of a Category 6 hurricane that wipes Kennebunkport off the map.
And even then, their reaction will be something appropriately stupid, perhaps involving annexing Canada or putting Halliburton in charge of relocating flood victims.
That said . . . specific steps that Kerry might take:
* Clean house. Kick the religious zealots, free-market ideologues and and industry shills out of agencies and cabinet positions.
* Scrap the requirements that family planning aid be contingent on not promoting abortion.
* Reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine
* Scrap recent revisions to the Clean Air act and Endangered Species act.
* Snowmobiles? In national parks? BZZZT! Sorry thrill-seeking rednecks . . . why not buy up brownfield sites in northern-tier rustbelt cities and zoom around abandoned factories?
* Higher CAFE standards.
* Close every loophole that make S.U.V.s economically attractive.
I love the United States. However even if Kerry wins the popularity of Bush shows an underlying problem.
On a more constructive note:
Our NGO's have to be more aggressive. Instead of buying Air Credit they should be buying up stock in GM and GE. If Multi-National Corporations are paying off governments then we should as well.
We need to stop feeding into their system. I know a lot of you out there are deriving an income in Progressive endevors, we all need to be producing and consuming in a progressive cycle. Paying taxes to non-progressive governments is unacceptable. Which brings me to my final statement.
If Bush wins this; my wife and I are leaving the U.S.
Ok, I'm going to keep this brief, I swear, but...
1> Bush Voters are actually rather out of touch with the *FACTS*. But they're quite in touch with their emotions, their feelings. Bush sells Tribal Solidarity, and they buy, and the Truth seems shrill, harsh, and unappealing by comparison.
2> It's not Bush's popularity that's the problem, it's stuff like less than 10% of the under 26 demographic voting, women not voting to protect their right to choose, black people being scared away from the polls, and the general lameness of the democratic party. What the republicans know is this: If you get beaten up in a fight, that's not the other guy's fault, that's your fault.
Think about that: that's the core of what makes them who they are. If the Democrats lose a fight, it is because of the Republicans - they were too strong, too vile, etc.
If the Republicans lose a fight, it is because of the Republicans - they were too weak, too disorganized, etc.
Both sides implicitly assume that the republicans are in charge of winning and losing. As a result, they win.
Your point 2> hit home with me. MoveOnPac mobilized a lot of people in the Minneapolis area. There were attempts to intimidate and challenge eligibility, especially toward people of colour. [The Twin-Cities has a large Native American population, too.] Thankfully, Minnesota turned blue on the map.
I have a few things to mention -- not really points, but observations:
It seems that the Nader people want more radical change. I think now that they might be correct.
The next "challenge" platform should be specific offering long-term, permanent changes -- like a business case with objectives and goals that could be measured in "real terms" for their success.
The militant christian element has to be directly confronted. [We should toss the bland "politically correct" stuff immediately. No matter how much we wish that it were still the 1950s and yearn with nostalgia for simpler times, we have to face the fact that it is the 21st century now. We live here.] To move forward, we have to keep from being held back ...
We need to plan to build the future instead of attempting to re-construct the past.
I was planning to vote for Nader. He's far more progressive than my great uncle will ever be. But I saw Michael Moore's movie, and it made me furious. Why would anyone believe such amateurish garbage, such transparent propaganda? I could not believe that Moore was stupid enough to foist such detritus on the movie going public. But clearly he was. This left me with a dilemma.
I was angry enough to do something drastic, something I had never done before.
But in the end I voted for Nader.
Enough other people got angry enough at Moore to vote for Bush. I had no need to dirty my own hands.