It’s the Diplomatic Agenda, Stupid

14 Sep

“This is my thoughtful, pondering face. Look deep into my fathomless blue eyes, and you will see the tru…”

I don’t really care whose name you’re checking on the POTUS ballot this November. (Ok, lies, I totally do, and I hear Canada is nice in the summer should things not go my way – but I shall refrain from saying Vote for _____! because let’s be honest, I’m not going to change your opinion. But if you can’t guess who I’m not voting for by the end of this piece, you didn’t read very carefully.)

I would, however, LOVE to change the prevailing notion that this election is about the economy.

Because it shouldn’t be.

It really really REALLY shouldn’t.

The President has very little actual say in what happens to the economy ‘cause, ya know, we have this thing called Congress to actually make the fiscal policy and also the Fed on the monetary side of things. But then there are the exogenous happenings like major natural disasters, debt crises in Europe, the collapse of the Kardashian empire (OMZ I don’t even want to think about what that would do to the economy)… Sure, the President can say “This is what we should do! Do it!” but then Congress and the Fed have to do that thing and we all know how well this has been working out lately.

So what should this election be about, Penny? You ask politely. No, with an edge. Because you have debts or are worried about your job or you don’t have a job or you know someone who knows someone who doesn’t have a job…


This should be a foreign policy election. (And should have been well before the recent hoopla.) Whose foreign policy? Well, I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Why? Because, HA wow would you look at that the President is actually a pretty big deal when it comes to foreign policy. Anything that comes out of his (one day this will be a his/her/gender-neutral pronoun situation and I cannot wait) mouth will be reported and liberally (and also conservatively) edited and taken to heart by not just Americans but also anyone with Internet anywhere in the world. The State Department? Part of the administration, see above re: reporting and editing and shots heard ‘round the world.

Why? Because, like it or not, we are part of a GLOBAL economy. In which, for example, annoying little gnats like sovereign debt crises in Europe can really wreak havoc on Wall Street. And we all know how Wall Street affects Main Street. (Or do we? A rant about the uninformed and the economy will be saved for another sunny day I’d rather be spending frolicking through meadows of fall grass.)

Why? Because we are not the only castle-builders in this giant sandbox (litterbox??) we call earth. (Actually we don’t build castles, come to think of it… but we build other things! And we build them all on our own, dammit!! We’re all brilliant autodidacts who just happen to know everything there is to know about everything and never need to be taught or ask for help ever!!!) Playing nice with the other builders in this giant litterbox is a pretty big fucking deal because hahahahhaha omz isn’t this funny that we’re sharing this little patch of sand here oh look your wall is having a spot of trouble over there, leaning into mine and ohhh would you look at that the water I brought over got your sand wet, too.

We are inextricably tied to the economies of Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, Africa… No amount of wishing to return to an earlier, more isolated economy is going to change that. Those ships sailed with Columbus and sank as soon as the WWW went live.

If you really must vote on the economy this November, vote for the candidate you think will do the best job of walking a very very thin line. Because protecting American interests at home and abroad is about finding balance and knowing when to smash castles, when to share sand, and when to quietly ignore a squabble or intervene as the tenor of the disagreement changes.

Some people are better at this than others.


One Response to “It’s the Diplomatic Agenda, Stupid”

  1. kshrivast September 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    I agree foreign policy should be one of the central debates of this election, but I would say this is more because of the large role of the president as a democratic figurehead. We want someone who will represent our nation well as an ambassador. In terms of many policy decisions, partisan politics cause people to reach comprimises, however representing the country to the world is something that the president must do on his own, and thus should be greatly considered in an election decision.

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