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Obama Needs to Tell Where He Stands

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Message Stephen C. Rose

The debate question conceals another question. How do we know what Barack Obama stands for. Those of us close to the campaign can point to his stands on the issues and to such speeches as his Cooper Union economics speech. The apposite response of Obama to Hillary Clinton's debate barrage is to simply announce that he will be giving a series of half hour speeches -- fireside chats -- over the next weeks that drill down to his positions on vital issues of concern to the American people.These speeches would, I propose, be on the following topics:

1. The Environment and the Recovery of American Global Business Leadership

The restoration of the US as undisputed global leader in business is directly related to proposals to build an entirely new notion of human settlement by taking steps to plan out an economy that is focussed on new technologies for sustainable and safe environments. This will aim at moving away from exclusive reliance on the car, building communities that have services within walking distance, overcoming the atomization of society and so forth.

2. The Recovery of Excellence in Education

An evocation of the Sputnik challenge. We will recover excellence by paying teachers according to their real value to society and ensuring the security and nurturing of students from birth through college, not merely by government prompting but by increased participation at the grass roots in a complex of programs that have been shown to work. I would look to some of the Tiger Woods Foundation initiatives. Barack spoke of taking a successful Harlem effort and launching it in 20 other cities. This speech needs to speak to a vision for a better rounded population, skilled in math and science but equally aware of how to think, what a great book is, and so forth. This should tackle literacy itself and ensure that Americans learn to read and wrote.

3. Creating a Human Scale Health System

This speech should drill down to what health would look like in a society that DID move from disease treatment to disease prevention. That did look carefully at the problems of an aging population. That did open the door to the hammerlock of the pharmas on alternative medicine. That integrated physical education with programs of obesity control and so forth. In particular it should emphasize the placement of outpatient care facilities that are the forefront of prevention. This would include the availability of basic diagnostic tests to neighborhoods and towns. This speech should drill down to specifics.

4. Bringing the Jobs Back Home

This speech should widen the net of those who will be needing jobs. To include the chronically unemployed and the unskilled. We need to encourage businesses to see that they can profit by forms of construction on a scale that makes GREEN viable, projects that have design merits, the creation of new settlements that are models for automobile free zones, experiments in mixing communities according to interests, in creating elder-safe environments that are better than nursing homes, efforts to recover pleasure in public spaces, the creation of squares with seats in them, the introduction of a human scale into planning, and so forth. Jobs will be created as the country moves to being the leader in the next stage of civilization beyond one exclusively dominated by oil and automobiles.

5. Foreign Policy.

This would go beyond getting out of Iraq to a vision for global cooperation to reach goals that will reduce frictions, reduce disease and achieve the creation of huge new markets for the technologies and solutions we develop as the first truly GREEN nation on earth, the first to become honestly oil free. This needs to touch on the need to move beyond the secrecy and clandestine efforts of the Cold War and the unconstitutional forays of the NeoCons to an open and hard-nosed understanding of the coming century as the time of the END OF OIL and the seizing of the opportunity to create the basis for a rewarding existence that moves into entirely new ideas for the achievement of community and prosperity.

I do not pretend to know the full content of any of these speeches or fireside chats. I do know that Hillary is taking the initiative a bit and that Barack's best response would be something like what I suggest -- a series of chats in which he does what he wishes debates could have achieved.

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Born in NYC, attended Oberlin & Trinity Schools, then Exeter and Williams (Phi Beta Kappa 1958). Worked with the Reverend James Robinson, finished Union Theological Seminary in NYC (1961). Joined Student Interracial Ministry in Nashville. Founded (more...)
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