By Ted Braun
We’re now in the home stretch of our nation’s political campaign. Unfortunately, this column has to be written before the last presidential debate takes place on October 16. But several things have become clearer as the campaign has progressed.
This election will have an important impact on our national home in a number of ways. If one party wins, there will be a strong effort to privatize social security, health care, and various social welfare programs as well as to reduce the size of the federal government and its regulatory power over the corporations. There will also be a strong effort to continue the low taxation rate of the richest citizens on the belief that their wealth helps create jobs.
Both parties, unfortunately, are committed to support for a steadily increasing military budget and continuing subservience to the Wall Street banks and corporations that have been at the heart of our economic troubles and the recipients of continuing help and protection. This will leave less resources available for rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and supporting our educational, health care, and social welfare programs.
It’s lamentable that many crucial issues have been left off the agenda of our campaign debates and public discussion. For example, the drone has become Obama’s chief weapon, terrorizing whole populations in a context of permanent war. Obama’s Department of Justice has argued against granting habeas corpus rights to detainees. It has invoked the Espionage Act against whistleblowers and carried on surveillance beyond that of previous administrations.
Both parties have failed to address the role played by money in our politics, the growing inequality and deepening economic problems in our nation, and the anxieties of a fearful population that often erupts against minorities, Muslims, and immigrants.
Almost completely overlooked has been the threat of global warming. Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment issued a report in 2005 that focused on two “climate change futures”: one resulting from gradual change, and the other from a “slippage of ice sheets from Antarctica to Greenland, accelerated thawing of permafrost with release of large quantities of methane.” The report predicted that as storms and other disruptions become more frequent, they would “overwhelm the adaptive capacities of even developed nations, large areas and sectors would become uninsurable, major investments collapse, and markets crash.” A new book, “Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet,” by Bill McKibben spells out this predicted scenario.
With our planetary home now under threat, we ought to be engaged in a serious national conversation about our nation’s highest values, priorities, and goals, and how we might live with all our fellow residents in a peaceful and constructive way on this planet. An agenda set by our nation’s wealthy individuals and corporations will no longer do. It’s time for a home stretch by the 99 percent. Hopefully we’ll have some leaders to help jump-start this conversation.
• • •
This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.