Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bridging the “Two Americas”: An Overlooked Foreign Policy Issue?

Ever since the 2004 US vice presidential hopeful John Edwards shed light on the issue of (mostly economic) disparity of the “Two Americas”, no follow-through has been done to alleviate the “alienation”. Does Foreign Policy experience start here?

By: Vanessa Uy

Its been four years since John Edwards first brought the issue of “disparity” between the “Two Americas” into the media spotlight. Of those four years that has passed, almost –if at all – has been done to address this issue. Despite the fact that the disadvantaged part of the “Two Americas”, were largely made up of African-Americans and other cultural minorities in the US.

Ever since the Civil Rights movement began in the turbulent decade of the 1960’s, the divisive politics that engendered a schism of the perfect American Union was finally addressed. From the Native Americans who were virtually made “foreigners” in their own country to the African-American community who never got a fair share of the American Dream ever since Abraham Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation. When it comes to healing the rift between the European Anglo-Saxon majority (hegemony?) and those on the other disadvantaged America – the cultural minorities alienated to the point that they feel as if they are foreigners in their own country. There’s progress for sure – albeit a painfully slow one.

One issue that became de rigeur in the 2008 US Presidential Race is Foreign Policy. No one in his or her right mind wishing for that much-coveted position in the White House will ever make a speech about “Foreign Policy Begins at Home”. It could be tantamount to political suicide. And yet, the ill-conceived policies of the past US Administrations had virtually created an another America. An America that’s not only disadvantaged financially, but also left out of their rights to reap the benefits of all the good things that America’s Founding Fathers had fought for. The divisive politics that lead to this was exemplified by that January 28, 2008 Newsweek cover story about how President George W. Bush and his neo-conservatives destroyed America.

The present Bush Administration not only widened the rift further between the African-American community and White America, but also made all of America’s ethnic minorities – especially Americans of Arab descent – virtually foreigners in their own country. Since the Republican Party / GOP ‘s selection of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as their Vice Presidential candidate. The GOP used the Foreign Policy experience issue to criticize their Democratic rivals. Yet they are oblivious of the Bush Administration’s folly of government mismanagement of creating a “Foreign Policy” crisis right on American home soil – i.e. the schism of the “Two Americas”.

Strangely, the Alaskan governor and Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin has been “discretely quiet” about the Native Americans / First Nations people in Alaska protesting against the wholesale crude oil exploration on their ancestral lands which could lead into widespread environmental degradation. Governor Sarah Palin has been also “discretely quiet” about the “good” things she has done to the Native American / First Nation community in Alaska during her tenure as governor of that state. Alaska may be close to Russia but I wonder if Governor Sarah Palin had ever been close enough to a Russian TU-95 Bear to make her ears ring for three straight days. Where is the Foreign Policy experience there? Yet Sarah Palin tried to single-handedly wipe out the progress made by the Women’s Liberation movement during the past 30 or so years with her overtly misguided NAZI / Ku Klux Klan-leaning “Pro-life” stance.

While the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had worked with inner city youths in his home base of Chicago, Illinois. Especially Chicago’s South Side famed for it’s disadvantaged African-American communities left out of the American dream. Barack Obama had been very busy working on schemes to make these disadvantaged communities a contributing and prosperous part of America. To me, this is Foreign Policy in action on American home soil aimed at alleviating the damage made by the divisive and obstructionist politics of Bush Administration Neo-Conservatives. And yet the real issue is conveniently spin-doctored to fit into the lipstick on a pig / lipstick on a pit bull-soccer mom rhetoric and demagoguery. Wlth this make the 2008 US Presidential Elections even more interesting?