CU Dem Zach Sims had a piece published in the Columbia Spectator this week; he one of six people asked to write about the most important issue of this election. You can see all of the responses here. Zach’s is posted below:
As much as the rhetoric of a new America and a new American era resounds in politics, the years of American unipolarity are coming to a close. America is no longer the world leader in everything. China’s economy is rapidly growing, as is Russia’s military. Both countries could soon surpass us in those realms.
This last week has shown just how fragile our economy is. In meetings with the Federal Reserve, Representative Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) noted that “we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.” His words echo the sentiment of the financial world, with insurance giant American International Group (A.I.G.) requiring a government bailout this week. Lehman Brothers, one of the world’s largest investment banks, was forced to file for bankruptcy. Merrill Lynch, another banking giant, was forced to seek a merger with Bank of America in order to stay solvent. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, independently owned mortgage financiers, were taken over by the US government in order to avoid catastrophic losses. This is, as economists Doug Diamond and Anil Kashyap put it, the most “remarkable period of intervention in financial systems since the Great Depression.”
To some, it may seem as if government intervention affects only those with a direct stake in these monolithic financial institutions. Yet, anyone with savings and investments in any financial instruments will be affected. The failure in the upper echelon of our financial world could signal the failure of deregulation and the American flavor of capitalism. It could signal what Pat Buchanan says is “how empires end.”
This November, we need to elect a leader who is focused on the most important issues of our time. The war in Iraq, while a pressing issue for our generation, should take a back seat to repairing the economic stability of our country. Fed Chair Henry Paulson and other members of the American financial elite have noted that this may be the worst crisis our country has seen since the Great Depression. Once solvency is restored, America can rebuild its place as a global leader and pay attention to other pressing issues.
What’s happening now will affect the country and its standing in the world for generations to come. Fixing today’s economic woes should be the focal point of this year’s presidential campaign. While health care, the war, social programs, and other topics were the subject of intense debate earlier in the campaign, fixing any of those will not stabilize America’s standing in the world. We need a president with a plan to get involved and focus his efforts on rebuilding what is essentially a broken system. Not only should the current crisis be solved, but the groundwork should be laid to ensure that Americans never see a crisis like this in their future.
At stake is more than what’s in your wallet. It’s your future—and America’s.
You should also check out Zach’s blog.
Probably thousands of people are rushing the security fence in the hope of seeing Barack, even though it seems unlikely he will come by here John McCain is almost an afterthought.
And, just for the record, he didn’t come by his thousands of adoring fans.
9:42 As Obama ends, he gets an enormous wave of cheers. John McCain must envy him.
9:40 Obama knows his campaign and how intense it is, even for young people. On my first day in the campaign, my boss asked me how much I could work because she’d “work me up to the point where I’d hate Barack Obama.” She didn’t succeed, but it just proves we young people can handle responsibility if we have it. We can change America, but we can’t do it alone.
9:37 Obama delivers a muscular defense of government. It reminds me of Matt Santos’ peroration on liberalism in The West Wing. It was great then, and it’s excellent now–as evidenced by the applause.
9:35 Obama says that organizing was the best education he got. As a former organizer for his campaign (before I came to Columbia), I can tell you that my several months of organizing rivals Columbia for the best time of my life so far.
9:33 Obama is bringing people of various stripes together, and he says so. There’s an outpouring of cheers.
The other post was getting a little long.
9:26 Obama mentions veterans again. Why didn’t the veteran, John McCain, not care enough about veterans to take note of them?
9:23 The screen is having trouble again.
9:20 Judy Woodruff is smart. She knows that, no matter what John McCain says, military recruitment and retention is not good. Barack Obama supported the new GI Bill that would help veterans get a college education. John McCain, who claims to be a big supporter of the troops?
He opposed it. No wonder many troops are supporting Barack Obama.
9:15 Obama’s getting plenty of applause here. You’d almost think he’s speaking to a friendly audience out here on the Steps.
9:11 Obama hasn’t spent his life working for the government–he’s spent his life working to make a difference.
9:09 Rick Stengel challenges Obama on whether unions are a roadblock. But unlike John McCain, Barack Obama, a former organizer, understands that community groups, including unions, work to serve their constituency and want to support positive, effective efforts. They’re only an obstacle to bad plans.
9:04 Obama just mentioned his national service plan. You can read it here. (PDF). The audience here is eating it up.
9:00 Obama’s laying out exactly what George Bush should have done after 9/11–end our support for foreign dictators and their Middle eastern oil. And he’s getting cheers for it.
8:56 Obama clearly got the most cheers. Numerous people are taking photos of the screen, both with camera phones and standalone cameras. There’s almost a strobe-light effect from all the camera flashes.
8:51 I think Obama just got more applause than McCain did during his entire appearance.
Just a note: If you’re interested, here’s Obama’s plan for citizen service (PDF)
UPDATE VI: McCain got some applause here, but not for himself. He got it for praising Barack Obama. Richard Stengal, Barack Obama, and Judy Woodruff have probably already received about as much applause as John McCain has.
UPDATE V: McCain is getting a decidedly lukewarm response here, probably because he hasn’t said much controversial.
UPDATE IV: All these breaks are tiresome for people watching live. Should this type of event really have commercial breaks?
UPDATE III: Judy Woodruff is asking McCain if he thinks organizing is a good thing. Finally. McCain claims to respect community organizers, but why doesn’t he tell his runningmate not to belittle them?
Sarah Palin had great responsibilities in Wasilla? Her town was less than a third of the Columbia students who applied to sit in the auditorium and listen to McCain. If she had great responsibilities, the President of the Columbia Student Council is qualified to be President.
UPDATE II: McCain has never seen a war he didn’t like. If he wants to go “bomb Iran”, as he’s proposed, we’re going to need more troops. Recruitment is bad enough as is. We’d need a draft, whether McCain admits it or not.
UPDATE I: McCain is getting boos out here for criticizing Columbia. But Columbia, and especially students here take a strong stand against bigotry and the discrimination of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He should be asked about that policy. Thousands of LGBT individuals have been discharged from the military because of that, and many of them were Arab translators. If you don’t think that’s hurting us in Iraq, I have Low Library to sell to you.
Judy Woodruff is smart and getting cheers for pointing out that many people, especially students, can’t afford to volunteer. John McCain seems unable to answer the question. He doesn’t know how to help students do community service. Barack Obama understands this–that’s why he’s proposed giving tax credits to students who volunteer for community service.