This first published January 17, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.
Nevada, you have an opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the country by participating in your local caucus. How we behave this weekend will speak volumes for months, if not for years.
Democrat or Republican, not only your voice but your actions will set the pace for what are probably the most important elections in our lifetimes.
The national media has now put us in the focus of the nation, even though there appeared to be a moment of denial after the New Hampshire primary that the Nevada caucus would be pertinent to presidential campaigns.
How easily they forget it was Nevada that put George W. Bush into the White House because of his empty promises of good science at Yucca Mountain. It is up to us to choose wisely and not make a decision based on any single hot-button issues, but to look in broader terms.
My own considerations involve global issues sprinkled with some state and domestic issues. Many people can’t quite grasp whether I’m Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, which illustrates my point about hot-button issues. Because I’m pro-life, some consider me to be conservative. However, in the same vein, I oppose the death penalty, which would color me as a liberal.
As a young man, I was a proud member of the National Rifle Association, which makes me a gun advocate, a conservative color for sure. On the other hand I’m definitely an advocate for peace and non-violent solutions, and this again colors me a liberal.
Though a registered Democrat, I can’t say I have ever voted a straight ticket in my life. Probably voting for as many Republicans as Democrats is a reflection of my being a Westerner and, more significantly, a Nevadan. Adopting platforms that didn’t really fit my lifestyle and belief system were never an option for me, so I left most party politics behind me in the ’80s.
In this presidential cycle, the candidate to catch my attention will need to show an interest in global matters such as “Smart Power” ‹ not the kind you get from an outlet either. It is the less tangible yet more empowering kind. There’s the superpower, or military power, of the United States, one of force and intimidation, and then there’s our Smart Power, the ability create global relationships through diplomatic strategies coupled with development assistance integrated with economic policies, defense and intelligence activities.
Last week I co-hosted IMPACT ’08 in Nevada, along with 80 or so other community leaders from around the state. IMPACT ’08 is a campaign launched by the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, which promotes “Building a Better, Safer World” through a 21st century vision of U.S. global leadership.
This national nonpartisan campaign co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci seeks to inspire the next administration to make Third World development, global health and diplomacy a priority.
Our presidential candidates need to grasp the importance of strengthening this country’s non-military tools of global engagement.
Most of us have never thought about foreign assistance and how it keeps America safe, nor have we considered how it works as a tool.
According to the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, U.S. foreign assistance works to keep America safer by stabilizing weakened states, assembling international anti-terrorism coalitions, combating weapons proliferation, fighting global crime and drug trafficking and promoting international understanding.
It demonstrates our moral values by alleviating poverty, expanding access to health care and basic education, combating the spread of infectious disease, supporting victims of disaster and conflict and strengthening democratic institutions and civil society.
Finally, it builds economic prosperity by promoting market access and global trade, supporting small and medium enterprise development, creating jobs, advocating for American business overseas and promoting economic development.
So what does this have to do with Saturday’s caucus here in Nevada? The answer is: Everything! You have a voice and a vote that can lead to a safer America for tomorrow by supporting candidates who have the “Smart Power” vision.
Desperate people take desperate measures. Desperation is the seed of terrorism. Desperate people today are the terrorist of tomorrow.
You are the voice, you have the vote. Don’t waste it.
Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656