Monday, June 26, 2006

John Edwards: Just one more Democratic hopeful for U.S. President?

A highly-readable article by Bob Herbert extols "The vision of Edwards" in The New York Times a couple of days ago (22 June 2006): (this requires registration, which is free for the first 14 days)

Herbert says, "However one feels about his proposals, it's worth paying attention to the fact that John Edwards is asking Americans to step up and meet important commitments".

Edwards questions whether the minimum wage in the US is adequate, what to do about 37 million Americans living in poverty (by US standards), how to get housing for a million working class folk, whether unions should be encouraged again, withdrawing at least 40,000 troops from Iraq immediately with further steady reductions "so that the Iraqis can take control over their own lives", and how to avoid sacrificing individual liberties and civil rights in the struggle against terrorism by Al Qaeda and other such groups.

As Herbert suggests in his article, whether one agrees or disagrees with Edwards' point of view on such topics is not as important as the fact that a US Presidential hopeful should begin to speak about tough issues such as these.

However, as a British passport holder of Indian origin working in Switzerland, it appears to me that there are some even more key issues to which Edwards and other Presidential hopefuls need to pay attention:

- reforms in the US election and wider political system in order to make it more democratic and accountable to the people of the United States;

- the effects of NAFTA, and the right shape for any agreement at the Doha Round of the WTO talks;

- what to do about the declining US dollar (which involves restructuring the entire US approach, over the last several decades, among other things to savings, credit, consumption, fiat money, and taxation; and

- how to create a level playing field that reduces global environmental degradation and climate chaos, and builds more egalitarian, prosperous, healthy, and politically free societies around the globe.

That is a truly amibitious agenda. But that is the minimum that needs to be tackled by anyone who aspires to be a world-class statesman today rather than a mere American politician.

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