Forget all of the bull about Rev. Wright, or Ayers or alleged inexperience.
Forget all of the inconsequential stuff, like Keating, age and Senate experience.
This election is about turning a page in political history. The only relevant question to ask this election is, can we afford to continue down the same road for the next four years, or should we make a clean break from the recent past, and position ourselves for a return to what always were American principles?
Barack Obama represents a break from the same old politics we've been treated to for years now; the sort of political climate that has left us where we are today; a battered, bruised old giant, unsure of where we need to be, and becoming more isolated from the rest of the world with every passing day.
America used to have a set of core principles that it adhered to, and with Obama and a group of new Democrats in Congress, we can reclaim those principles, and make this country great once more. But it's not enough to simply reclaim American principles; we have to move the country forward, in a way that ensures our children and grandchildren will inherit a great country, in line with 21st Century realities. As the people who have been running this country in recent years have tried to return us to the 19th Century, the rest of the world has been moving forward into the 21st Century, and leaving us in the dust. It's hard to imagine that in 28 short years, we have gone from being the preeminent economic power in the world to being the world's greatest debtor nation, and which seems incapable of embracing anything new beyond the Internet.
This country needs a new attitude. Here are a few things the new president needs to address, if this country is to have any shot at returning to greatness:
- Stop threatening to drill for more oil. The last thing in the world this country needs is more freaking oil, okay? It's not unlike telling a heroin junkie to grow more poppies; the concept is absurd. I drove across the entire country over the last few months, and I'm here to tell you; if you can't envision the entire country's electrical needs being met by solar panels and wind turbines, then you have no imagination. But even more important than alternative power sources is conservation. We have to learn to do more with less; we have no choice. The next leaders of this country have to put together programs to do more things, while using less energy, while simultaneously replacing our dependence on that 19th Century technology, where we have to burn things in order to generate electricity.
- Start enforcing the Sherman Act, and break up companies that stifle entrepreneurship and innovation. Remember the breakup of the Bell System (AT&T)? It was the greatest thing to happen to us, because it resulted in amazing innovation in the communications industry. Without it, who knows if cell phones or VoIP would even exist? Who's to say what shape the Internet might have taken, had only one company provided access to it? Yet, since then, the government has allowed merger after merger to happen, with fewer and fewer companies controlling more and more of our economy. Five companies own and control most of the commercial radio frequencies in this country. Only about five companies own and control almost all of the cable channels you watch every day. Every time a new shopping center goes up in your town, it looks the same as every other shopping center, and have you noticed that all shopping malls contain largely the same stores, as well? And do we realy want or need huge conglomerates to grow our food for us?
- Start returning our manufacturing base to us. That means we have to stop encouraging companies to move jobs overseas, and give them incentives to build plants and create jobs here. It's truly dangerous to be so dependent on other countries for our goods and services. Yes, there are a lot of people who think they're getting a great deal when they can buy a spatula for a dollar, but don't tell me they wouldn't pay $2 to get an American-made spatula, if it was available. It also means a return to an equal playing field for unions, that allows workers to band together, and stop the Wal-marts of this world from paying terrible wages, with no benefits, and pocketing the extra profit.
- Stop spending so much of our tax money on weapons systems we don't need, and spend that same money on public works programs that actually result in more jobs for Americans, and a stronger infrastructure. Why are we able to afford to spend billions upon billions on bombers and missiles and such, that we will probably never use, or maintaining a nuclear arsenal we hope we will never use, but we never have any money to clean up the inner cities, or to make sure our highways are clean and safe, or to make sure our parks are in good shape? Yes, I know a lot of people are employed by fulfilling defense contracts, but if the same money is used to build new parks, or to clean up or rebuild cities, and if it's done the right way, there could very well be a net job gain.
- Start repairing our reputation around the world. We have always traditionally been seen by other countries as the benevolent superpower, but that reputation has been badly tarnished recently, especially in the last eight. It's almost as if, since the Soviet Union bit the dust, we've been trying to replace them as world pariah.One of the reasons our "defense" budget has been so high, is because we've been trying to portray ourselves as the biggest, baddest asses on the block, and that never works to a country's advantage. That sort of view of life is the neocon view; that no one messes with the biggest kid in the schoolyard. But that's just not an accurate vision of the real world. In the real world, other countries resent large countries, and doubly resent big countries who try to impose their will on others.And if enough countries think of us as a bully who wants to do them harm, they are perfectly capable of making our lives a living hell. If we are a benevolent power, doing good around the world, and spreading a message of peace, it will be much easier to determine who wants to do us harm, because most other nations will not want to do us harm.
- Start to recommit ourselves to both human rights and civil rights. People have a right to life, a right to personal liberty, up to the point that it infringes on the liberty of others, and a right to participate in society in any way they see fit. Everyone has an absolute right to health care, everyone has a right to marry, and create a family with anyone they choose, everyone has a basic right to a roof over their head and food in their stomach. We cannot shine as a beacon to other countries, as long as people are dying, or being forced into bankruptcy court because they have no money; as long as people are being denied rights because of their choice of life partner; as long as there are people who are homeless through no choice of their own; or as long as people around the world have to fear death, if their government chooses not to bend to our will. No more torture, no more invasion without provocation, no more jail without benefit of trial for anyone, and no more imposition of our will on others.
- Start acting as responsible stewards of our portion of the planet. We must start cleaning up after ourselves, and we have to start making choices that impact less on our environment. And not just the burning of fossil fuels, which is obvious. It's clear we have to stop driving as much, and we have to switch to electric vehicles, and start generating electricity more cleanly. But think about other things, as well. Does every single slice of cheese have to be wrapped separately? Does everything that comes in a bag have to be placed in a box, as well? Whatever happened to buying just what we need, by scooping flour or raisins into a paper bag and buying them that way? And do we have to wrap everything in plastic?
That's just a start. There are a bunch of things we need to do, if we're to shake off the neocon yoke and progress along with the rest of the world. And make no mistake; we're falling way behind, folks. We're already only the second largest economy in the world, and we're indanger of becoming the fourth largest within ten years and the sixth or seventh largest within the next 20. Our entire society seems to be all about flexing our muscle at the rest of the world, while we rest on our fat laurels.
We have to change our attitude, and we have to do it fast. The rest of the world is kicking our asses on the future of energy production, while we sit back and tell everyone within shouting range that "We're the greatest." It's high time we stopped proclaiming ourselves as the greatest, and started to be the greatest, which will require us to take back our American principles of human rights for all.
Please feel free to comment, and add your own thoughts. That's what we're here for.