Regardless of whomever wins the presidential election, the next president has to not simply reverse the unilateral military policies of president Bush, but he also has to symbolically act to gain the respect of the community of nations.
The truth is, it is not simply Bush's military policies that have to be reversed. The new president has to also reverse his domestic policies that have favored corporations and that have radically
infringed on the Constitutional rights and privacy of virtually everyone in this country. In this regards, the new president needs to renounce the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war and sign on to all international treaties that call for the elimination of torture, cluster bombs and others related to the proper conduct of war. He also needs to adhere to all international treaties that the United
States is already a signatory to, particularly ones that cover human rights. Most assuredly, he also needs to disavow the practice of "signing statements" ÔÇô a practice that has permitted presidents to
sidestep Congress and the U.S. Constitution. To side with the populace, he also needs to ensure that the government regulatory agencies work as they were intended to work, and put teeth into these agencies, particularly the EPA, the FDA and those that ensure labor and health standards.
A new president also needs to proclaim the end of a fear-based government and a fear-based society. This includes the end of spying against innocent U.S. citizens, while proclaiming that the next four years will represent a return to the era of open, transparent and accountable government.
All of the above can be acted upon immediately, and in a sense, they are all symbolic.
If the nod goes to Sen. Barack Obama, which in itself would be a powerful symbol, in the realm of symbolic acts ÔÇô there is one thing that he could do that would send an even more powerful message; boldly proclaim that "no human being is illegal." Such a proclamation would be the most radical advancement in civil and human rights law since the 1964 Civil Rights Act in which the U.S. government codified the ideal that all people are created equal.
Not coincidentally, as these rights have been further expanded and codified in this succeeding generation, a major exception has occurred; the ideal of justice and equality for all has been modified to apply to U.S. citizens only. In fact, similar views have even spilled over into the 2008 presidential elections where politicians now speak of a "Real America" and "pro America" areas of the country. The implication is that some parts of the United States are anti-American. A further implication is that there are peoples who are genuine Americans and pro-Americans while others are suspect or anti-Americans.
The vitriol that has been heard on the campaign trail about Sen. Obama ÔÇô that he is a socialist, a terrorist, and worseÔÇª not a genuine American ÔÇô is the same vicious hate that has been spewed against "illegal aliens" over the past generation ÔÇô the subtext being that they are not genuine human beings, much less Americans.
Just as Sen. Obama has the vision ÔÇô akin to president John F. Kennedy ÔÇô to proclaim that within 10 years the United States will no longer be dependant of foreign oil ÔÇô whoever is the next president should also proclaim that within 4 years ÔÇô by the time Senators John McCain or
Obama leave office ÔÇô there will no longer be such a thing as illegal aliens and that all the walls and fences along the Southern border will also be dismantled.
Sen. McCain ÔÇô who was imprisoned and dehumanized for five years and who proclaimed in the primary season that "we are all children of God" ÔÇô perhaps would have the moral courage to follow through with such a "radical" proposal, though to be truthful, he retrenched from this
moral position under pressure from the far-right anti-immigrant wing of his party.
If it's Sen. Obama, such a proclamation would be even more symbolic ÔÇô for all the obvious reasons. Though for all the obvious reasons, the chances of this happening are also nil because history has shown us that it is easier for inanimate objects ÔÇô such as walls ÔÇô to come
down, than for all human beings to be viewed, treated and honored as full human beings.
Despite possible trepidations from leaders in the House and Senate ÔÇô that's the next great human rights struggle. Hopefully, it will be the next president that leads us toward that new mountaintop.
Rodriguez can be contacted at:
Column of the Americas - PO BOX 85476 - Tucson, AZ 85754
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