The fact that, at this late date in 2011, the political system, including Parties, media, and interest groups, is conducting narrowly-defined “debates” tells us all we need to know about the refusal of that system to force itself into the new 21st century.

Most recently the latest Republican “debate” focused on foreign policy. That reflects a 20th century view that there are topical “boxes” of issues, each discrete from the others. But you don’t have to be part of the East coast establishment to know that our economy is globalized, our relations with other nations cannot be separated from that global economy, that the environment is not defined by political boundaries, that energy production and consumption involves intricate international political and economic deals, and that security is now much more international than national.

Perhaps one or more of the Republican candidates made these points. I confess to not watching. And perhaps President Obama will remind us of these intricate relationships during his campaign. Regardless of the media’s attempt to maintain issue “boxes”, American voters should demand that all candidates demonstrate that they understand the vital connections among economics, energy, environment, security, and international relations, and that these connections require a dramatic new approach to the issues many continue to want to keep in separate policy and political boxes.

The news accounts of the latest “debate” are enough to convince me that none of the candidates understand the new interrelated world we now live in and continue to promote the idea that we can go it alone according to our own terms. This narrow traditional view of America the all-powerful helps them avoid the necessity of the U.S. leading an international democratic consortium to govern the global commons much as visionary world leaders following World War II fashioned an imaginative set of international institutions that successfully prevented another world war.

NATO among other such institutions proved that we can collaborate in our common interests with other like-minded nations and not sacrifice sovereign self-governance or self-determination in the process.

The central issue of the economy and jobs cannot be addressed separately from this new world. And if we believe we can elect someone to the presidency who doesn’t understand and acknowledge this reality–that is who is unequipped to demonstrate visionary statesmanship–we are delusional and courting folly on a massive scale.

4 Responses to “A Campaign As a Search for Statemanship”

  1. Bill Pruden Says:

    This post is yet another poignant reminder of what is wrong with our political system, for the days of substantive discussion of issues, the days when campaign meant the presentation of the real choices facing our nation, the time when candidates offered thoughtful visions of the future—all things that Senator Hart sought to do in his candidacies—have been lost, replaced by campaigns characterized by the instant and vacant sound bite and “debates” that are nothing more than repeats of the scripted inanities. And of course a media that obsesses over the smallest of small pictures instead of holding office seekers accountable is no help. All of this would be sad under any circumstances, but it is especially so now at a time when leadership and statesmanship are so needed. And yet some of the responsibility lies with us—“we the people,” for we have not embraced our role as fully as we should. We must demand more of them. For democracy to work, we all must accept our roles–candidate and voter alike–and then act accordingly. With freedom comes responsibility and too often we forget that. Campaigns are not just about winning. They also serve—or should—to lay the groundwork for governing—we must not forget that.

  2. Debbie Lackowitz Says:

    Hey. Every quadrennial Presidential election presents us anew with choosing our next President. And each time forward, it seems to get worse. Except for 2008. Now THERE was a CLEAR choice. But think back. Both Democratic and Republican challengers for the office seem less and less qualified, don’t they? Oh yes, I AM including Democrats (but NOT as much!). I do try and forget the inanities that are perpetrated on us every four years. 2008. Mrs. Clinton ‘knocking back’ boilermakers in Pennsylvania! The 3:00 a.m. phone call! Sister Sarah! 2004. John Kerry windsurfing! The treacherous anti-Kerry sliming! And oh, HOW could we forget 2000! The Supreme Court drama! The McCain Express! Compassionate Conservative! Oh YEAH, bring it ON! Back to 1992. It’s the ECONOMY, STUPID! 1980. There you GO again, MR. President! 1984. Where’s the Beef? I’m on a roll here, but I digress. I DO agree with Mr. Pruden. We haven’t embraced our role as fully as we should. Well. SOME of us do. But certainly more should. I believe that the crux of the matter is that many of us (myself not included) have come to believe that government does not work. At least for them. So hence, lower turnout of only the most polarized. Shrieking at each other. Of course it doesn’t work! Not like that. We DO need discourse on important issues. And we need to discuss them intelligently. With passion, but NOT to the point where we can’t hear each other. And THEN we have to be able to work things out. A very important word. Compromise. We’ve lost how to do it. So when the Republican candidates come out to their ‘debates’ with prepared sound bites? My answer? TURN IT OFF! Turn on the News Hour instead. Or MSNBC. Or Keith on Current TV. But definitely NOT FOX!

  3. MinerSam Says:

    “The news accounts of the latest “debate” are enough to convince me that none of the candidates understand the new interrelated world we now live in and continue to promote the idea that we can go it alone according to our own terms.”

    Surely you must mean the Republican Debates. And None of the Republican Candidates!

    In 2006 after the Republicans lost their 12 Majority control of House & Senate & 6 Year control of all 4 branches. After trampling on our Democracy, sucking our country dry, and kicking it off the cliff, they set out as their
    only strategy going forwad which was to: “Make the Democrats look bad to their constituants”

    Since the President is also running and the Beltway Media is another way of saying: “Republican appeasers and their Lie repeaters” I would appreciate if you. and others, were more precise!

    The President has been carrying our country on his shoulders and has clearly shown through his brilliance and actions that he understands very clearly the
    interconnectedness of countries and their economies. While the Republican predators have shown that they thrive upon ill will & profound ignorance!

    One who has seen 9 of the 10 debates.

  4. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    Senator Hart,

    With your first paragraph, you define the main problem with the mainstream media. They are not interested in a discussion of the issues and their “interconnectedness”, they want a five second “sound bite” that can be put into a fifteen second segment on their half hour news cast or in a brief column on the third page of the daily edition of the paper. The media has given up on reporting the “news” and has become a slave to their advertisers, who only want human interest stories and sports to make the readers feel good, and the local police blotter to terrify the reader into submission and acceptance of the need for a police state to protect them. We are led to believe that we can legislate away evil by eliminating personal freedoms. But as Ben Franklin said, “Those who would give up personal liberty to purchase a little temporary safety and security deserve neither.”
    I could not agree more with Mr. Pruden that “We the people” have “not embraced our role as fully as we should.” The “Occupy” movement was initiated too raise pertinent issues about the economy, but has been manipulated by the current powers that be in collusion with the media to be perceived as a threat to the cleanliness of the streets and parks and a violent assault upon the order of society, so it has to go, without the issues that it has raised ever being addressed by anyone. I had hopes that this movement would raise the consciousness level of most Americans and other first world citizens to the impact that large banks and financial institutions were and are having on the world economy. Alas, this has not happened.
    If we do not immediately address the issues that you have raised in a manner which you suggest within this Presidential election cycle, I fear that future movements, which are bound to arise, will be more forceful and potentially violent. We will all loose, if this happens.

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