I think we are in what I will call “The Olympics of the Superpowers”. See the BBC online US Superpower Status is Shaken
Further, I think we are in some kind of 4x100m relay final in these "Olympics of the Superpowers". Each country has its own team composition of four “runners”. Some countries have the government, economy and the regulators as “runners”. But the US right now only has various level of governance as their “runners” because the visibly dysfunctional governance has made no space for the economy to be even one “runner” in this race so far. Unless and until Congress passes some kind of legislation to help the financial markets, there will be no third or fourth leg for the economy.
For the US national team, the US Senate has run the first leg – and they ran a “great run” with speed, confidence and style. The “great run” was the passage of a version of the bailout bill with a good majority and bipartisan support. To be clear, I have my own view on the “sweeteners” but I'll save those for after tomorrow's vote in the House.
Which brings me back to the 4x100 Relay Final. For the US national team, the US House of Representatives are the runners for the next leg which is the debate and the vote tomorrow on the bailout bill approved by the Senate.
Let’s remind everybody how relay races work. You need a smooth and successful baton change and a great run each leg of the race. It takes two to make a smooth and successful baton change – the runner giving and the runner receiving. The runner giving (the Senate) did its part – that was part of the “great run”. It’s now up to the runner receiving (the House).
If the baton is dropped, the race is over for your team. In the “Olympics of the Superpowers”, the race is over for your country. You may still be in the finals for the history books. But there will be no gold, no silver, no bronze - no medal. And you will just have to wait until the next Olympics.
If you have a smooth change BUT neither a great run NOR a smooth baton change (however successful) to the third runner then you are weakening the team and diminishing the team’s ability to win a medal. “Neither a great run NOR a smooth baton change (however successful) to the third runner” means barely passing in the bill in a highly contentious non-bipartisan manner.
As I said, I had the opportunity to serve in the Senate. In Jamaica, Senators are appointed. I believe that respect is due to all people willing to go through the electoral process. It is not an easy road. I loved the campaign trail, and went on it at every opportunity. I loved talking to the people and listening to them and trying to help them with their problems. But, truthfully, the campaign trail was optional for those of us who were appointed. It is not so for those who are elected.
In the US, Senators are elected but they are not facing re-election this year so I understand that they face less pressure – not “no pressure”, but “less pressure” - than those in the House of Representatives. Those who are elected must never ignore the voices of people. And so close to an election, it is not that you should not listen to the elevated voices; it is also – and more so – that you discern the greater good.
And we are at one of those moments for the greater good.
The greater good is not inaction.
The greater good is not yet another internal revolution of the ruling party in front of the whole world.
The greater good is not grandstanding.
The greater good IS the best interests of your constituents. What are the best interests of your constituents?
These are :
- demonstrated efforts to do something tangible to revive the economy - that necessarily includes stabilizing the financial markets. Neither the law nor the plan has to be perfect because perfection does not exist. Does it have a tangible benefit or tangible benefits for the party – the taxpayer - providing the funds? Because that really is the most important part of this particular bill.
- the restoration of faith and confidence in the concept of government and governance. Whether or not we like it, we have to have some form of government. The absence of government is anarchy.
- the preservation of democracy. If anyone wants something other than democracy, do it in an orderly way. Chaos is counter-productive.
- the building of optimism in the future amongst your people. A crisis of confidence and a complete lack of hope is paralyzing. This is not the first difficult situation the US or the world has ever faced no matter how much we may have forgotten that fact or how many of us have never experienced it in our lifetimes. That’s why we have older generations, history books and historians. Mankind has not figured out how to stop time, so let’s keep moving – in a positive direction – because this too WILL pass.
- the improvement of the image and standing of the US in a globalized interconnected world, especially because the US itself insisted the world had to have a globalized interconnected world.
So this all leads me to my questions:
Is the US aiming for a gold medal, a silver medal, a bronze medal, a finish, or none of the above?
Is it that we are not even in the “Olympics of the Superpowers” but what others have said - "Armageddon"? Well, I am not even prepared to think about that option. If the ONLY options are "the end of the world", OR "Olympics" (which is a competitive recurring sport of excellence) - I will take Olympics any day however dysfunctional and turbulent this year's may have been. Personally speaking, I am not comforted by the use of the word “evil” by Governor Palin in the Vice Presidential debate tonight. So, when I have finished counting how many times she said “fight”, I’ll have a blog post on the debate itself. Until then, let's just think positively that we are in the "Olympics of the Superpowers" which is a far more peaceful prospect.