As the US November election inches closer to reality, the country remains polarized, its leadership demonstrating a lack of capability to confront the underlying issues facing the country and the world. Political ideology has generated this growing polarity, creating stagnation and an unwillingness to make unbiased, unprejudiced, non-partisan, impartial, non-discriminatory, detached, objective, dispassionate, tolerant, broad-minded and reasoned assessments and decisions.
The division on issues ranging from a woman’s right to choose, climate change and drought, energy, the defense budget, immigration, the environment and of course, the economy, played out this past year when congress came dangerously close to defaulting on the national debt.
The period of history where true statesmanship prevailed has long passed. Historically, Republicans and Democrats found ways to work together in order to solve difficult issues and preserve democracy. Now both political parties dramatically espouse clashing, conflicting and irreconcilable ideologies. The schism plays out as the heretofore willingness to compromise, an axiom of democracy, founders--a betrayal of democratic principle.
The pressing question: Where are our republic and the world headed without statesmanship?
My central concern is that the US Government leadership is gridlocked in partisan and ideological in-fighting instead of paying serious attention to the central issues facing the US and the planet. Restoring the nation’s infrastructure is an immediate necessity, as is resuscitating our public education system, both basically in shambles. Implementing a National Water and Energy Policy is critically important. A focus on implementing public/private partnerships is called for in order to restore the economy.
From a global perspective, a humanitarian crisis confronts the world. The reality of this crisis manifests in planet-destabilizing levels of war, terrorism and crime. Sadly, unlike during our decades-ago Cold War, no long-term and comprehensively coordinated public policies or strategies are in place to confront this global emergency. Nor have we worked to implement lasting solutions.
Lack of water, drought, population growth, poverty, disease, and lack of education for young boys and especially young girls, create a horrific centerpiece as the reality for a majority of our global population. These conditions already create local violence with illegal arms. Worse, present circumstances will likely spawn nuclear arms proliferation in those regions which are only seeking to secure access to scarce resources.
Clean water and basic sanitation should be a basic right for every human being. Diseases linked to polluted water and poor sanitation, along with the time and energy women in the developing world devote to collecting water, significantly reduce economic productivity, and opportunities for these women to seek a basic education. UN statistics indicate seventy percent of the world’s poor are women. The lack of access to safe water and sanitation in communities and schools impacts girls’ ability to attain an education and escalates the reality of poverty among women.
Water scarcity also has a gloom-laden impact on agricultural productivity and food security. Close to one billion people suffer from hunger, which will become worse as the world population mushrooms.
By 2050 there will be a projected 9.2 to 10 billion people on the planet, yet not enough water and food to sustain them. This reality opens the door to potential global conflict and profound concerns about international security. Currently, no public policies or strategies stand in place to confront the unfolding global emergency because political polarization keeps us in a stranglehold.
It is now time for serious thinkers and statesmen to evolve and assume leadership!
Jim Thebaut is an accomplished and experienced CEO, President, with expertise and extensive achievements as an environmental planner, journalist, executive producer of documentaries, educator, world traveler, ambassador of diplomacy and a public policy expert.
“It’s too precious to lose. People will cut your throat for water.” - Lodi (CA) City Council member Bob Johnson, talking about the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District’s water right