This morning I dropped by the launch of ONE Vote 08, a campaign to raise the profile of global poverty and health in the presidential elections.
The ONE Campaign has done a remarkable job raising the profile of these issues generally over the past few years, and in a bipartisan way. By any measure, the Campaign has exceeded expectations.
This morning’s event featured the African Children’s Choir, former Sens. Daschle and Frist, and a number of celebrities, organizers, and other political types.
I stayed just long enough to hear the introduction and the statements by videophone from the four early primary/caucus states (Prepared remarks by current or former officeholders are rarely enlightening and I rarely stick around for them, though tomorrow’s foreign policy conference held by the Center for American Progress will likely be an exception).
Starting out with about 20,000 volunteers in each of the four early states, ONE Vote should be a player with some influence. Apparently, ONE is putting $30 million into the 2008 race.
While everyone in the Democratic field has discussed the importance of addressing global poverty, John Edwards has been out in front on the issue for quite a while and deserves some recognition. Given how seriously former Republican officeholders are invested in the Campaign, Republican candidates may too embrace the ONE platform.
Many Americans right now are preoccupied with the fight against America’s military adventurism – a noble cause indeed, and one that deserves to stay on the front burner. Unfortunately, this fight crowding out discussion of other critical foreign policy problems, like global poverty.
It is also starting to give rise to a dangerous myth: that our past and current mistakes render us incapable of constructively engaging in global affairs. That myth is giving rise to a kind of neo-isolationism in both major parties and needs to be thoroughly debunked.
Real U.S. leadership, which puts diplomacy first and invokes a spirit of partnership and common cause, can go a long way towards addressing extreme poverty, as well as many other global problems. Without that kind of participation from the U.S., those problems will surely go unsolved.
Here’s hoping the ONE Campaign can help move that agenda forward.
— Scott Paul