Race arrives at special time in history
The electoral craze has made it home. With the Texas primaries quickly approaching and early voting under way, we were treated to an event that, unfortunately but predictably, delivered more noise than substance: the presidential debate in Austin.
Besides getting involved in the process that could change the course of our nation, this is a chance to turn our eyes, and let’s hope our minds, to those pressing issues that concern us the most: war in Iraq, international relations, oil dependence, human rights, the environment and health care.
Regardless of what brings us to the polls, and getting past the niceties and smoke-screen arguments – such as who used somebody else’s speech or who cavorted with some lobbyist – what is obvious from all these discussions and finger-pointing is that the United States’ global lead is eroding.
It seems almost ironic that the most powerful nation in the world is now mostly concerned with people losing their homes, substandard education, high health-care costs, unaffordable insurance, unsecured borders and rising concerns about the future.
Unlike the post-war educated and somewhat well-to-do immigrants that came to construct their dreams of a better life here, we are now seeing a good segment of the educated and well-to-do actually making the trip back across the ocean, following what seems to be the better promise of a European Union or emerging Asian nations.
And the new wave of immigrants, more often than not, are more interested in getting money and returning to their homeland instead of staying and generating wealth in our economy.
During last week’s debate, the rhetoric and platform statements of our presidential hopefuls left, if nothing else, the impression that we are now a country concerned mostly with the survival and revitalizing of our own society and economy, rather than the once all powerful nation that wondered, probably more than it should have had, about how to make the best of such power. However, this is not the case; instead, the government is concentrating on where to put the weight of our advanced technology, strong democracy and mighty military in order to ensure our status of imperial order in other regions.
It really says something when our candidates are debating paying back our bills or the possibility of renegotiating relations with a post-Castro Cuba while Iran continues to effectively conduct long range-missile tests and maintains its nuclear program as a strategic national policy.
Meanwhile, Japan has put in orbit a high speed Internet satellite that will render our costly and delicate land-based structure outdated in one blow, and is also keeping up the pace with a space program that threatens to beat us back to the moon by 2020.
Venezuela keeps growing richer with our oil dependence and is actively seeking to replace the influence of the United States in the region. Not to mention, the industrialization in China and the rise of the Russian economy are challenging American security initiatives in Europe.
Our internal problems clearly and undoubtedly require attention and need to be dealt with. but, have we finally reached our limits? Should we now take the advice we’ve often given to underdeveloped nations about dealing with their own problems and leaving international policy making to the big boys? Or is it still our duty and God-given right to secure our lead and take on the challenges of a more competitive local and international arena?
Perhaps it could be both. If we all pull our share of the load, which especially includes the politicians, there is no reason we could not take care of job losses, health care shortfalls, education reform, immigration issues and all the other culprits that threaten the strength of our society.
We also have the capacity and manpower to recoup the diplomatic, technological and scientific lead that will eventually bring back the jobs and stability that will also help us in the local sphere.
We should keep in mind and should remind our leaders that, in the global economy, national and international interests are closely interrelated, and they should not avoid the unpleasant and difficult task of finding the appropriate ways and balances to achieve our goals in both scenarios.
Bonilla, a computer-science technology senior, can be reached via [email protected].