Saturday, January 5, 2008

Democratic Stars

Last political post of the night, I guess I'm just starting to get caught up in the season. The issues that I care about and foresee challenging us in the next forty years (of which, changing our approach in the next eight years is crucial) include:

Global Issues:
Economic development in Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, and Latin America
Climate Change
Energy policy (and global resource use, broadly)
Political and military engagement in asymmetrical conflicts (terrorist organizations and failed states)
Humanitarian intervention (genocide, famine, disease, natural disaster)
Basic health and sanitation services for the poorest 1 billion

Domestic Issues:
Education (primary and secondary)
Health Care
Sustained Economic Growth
Competitiveness in scientific and technological innovation
Managing national debt and trade balances
Increased energy efficiency and independence on foreign oil
Creating capabilities and opportunities for the poorest quarter of American society
Creating open political dialogues on race and class in America

In emailing with CC about the results of the Iowa caucus, I was impressed about how wide a range of political talent a Democratic President will have at his/her disposal to tackle these issues. From potential Vice Presidential candidates, to cabinet members, to high-profile statesmen who can be called upon to fulfill ambassadorships or special missions, the list is impressive, in political talent, in the problems that the individuals have chosen to focus on and care about, the approaches that they take to those problems, and the political standing they have both in the U.S., and globally. Consider a hypothetical Obama administration:

VP Candidates include Edwards (focus and credibility on domestic policy, including poverty issues and health care), Richardson (experience with Energy policy, engage Hispanic demographic, credibility on international issues, particularly N. Korea), and Biden (foreign policy, deep legislative experience).

As statesmen, you'd have Bill Clinton (imagine having him lead task-forces on global economic development, AIDS and other epidemics, and forging partnerships with China and India), Al Gore (climate change and energy policy), Edwards (poverty and health care), Wes Clark and Joe Biden on Iraq and global political crises, including terrorism and humanitarian crises.

Add to that the ability to select advisers from a whole cadre of smart, respected ex-active politicians with national profiles who you could potentially make use of (Gephardt, Bob Kerrey, Tom Daschle, Tom Harkin, Bob Graham), smart, senior Senators from "safe" states like Biden, Dodd, Jack Reed (RI), Boxer/Feinstein, Feingold, Durbin, Kerry, Schumer, Pat Leahy and Hillary to deploy as needed, a ton of smart, young politicians and policy wonks whom I've never heard of, and the ability to reach across the aisle, where appropriate, to the Olympia Snowe's and Chuck Hagel's and Mike Bloomberg's and Bill Cohen's of the world.

The potential for a Democratic president to really re-assert America's perceived and actual leadership well into the 21st century is massive. I can't see a Republican president doing anything but continuing the harm that his administration has done. And in terms of political talent available, there is nothing even close to comparable on the Republican side of the aisle (and there hasn't been in at least twenty years).


Stockton Hercules said...

Great list, and great point about the richness of the Democratic field.

Two amendments:

1. I would also add gay rights somewhere on the list.

2. I'd strenuously object to Edwards having credibility on healthcare. Not simply because as a malpractice plaintiff lawyer, he is part of the problem. His "plan",a s I understand it, is a mishmash of irreconciliable ideas: employer-based health care, "universal" coverage, and tax credits.

We've got to move past employer-based coverage:
1) People switch jobs too often.
2) People's health care needs are not determined by their corporate affiliation, but by their actual health, genetics, family situation, age, etc.

Anyway, discussion for another day, but based on my brief reads of their statements, of the Democratic front-runners, Edwards's statements make the least sense. I'd rate both Obama & Clinton more credible on health - Obama particularly, in his emphasis on portability and innovative ideas like federal re-insurance for catastrophic coverage.

Ritik Dholakia said...

PK -

I haven't looked at the health care platforms in detail, just read other people's opinions. So I'll have to take your objection to Edwards' plan, and get a little more informed.

I would agree, in general, with both of your points on health care (hell, this will be four jobs in eight years for me!) and about portability and the ability for an individual to maintain both choice and ownership of their coverage, medical data, etc.

As for gay rights (as well as abortion rights), they are weird issues. They seem like problems that are so NOT hard to solve. Let women have the right to choose, and let gays marry!

I feel like most Americans would basically agree with this, that the principles of liberty and equality basically demand this, and so I don't rank them among my issues to solve.

That said, yes, I think that as long as the fundamentalist wing of the Republican party, and they (large and) influential minority of Americans that it represents continues to threaten these liberties, than the Democrats will need to be vigilant.

But I think the war should be waged more at the level of combating the dubious power play for judges, legal precedent, and state legislatures that the Republican think tanks are prosecuting, and much less as a public airing of values. I think that plays into too many political traps.

Also, both gay rights and abortion rights strike me as issues of politics, and of judicial discretion, not fundamentally of governance.

Then again, maybe I'm being both naive and callous.