Sid Salter Column 11-4-08

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Salter: Candidate ‘wins’ right to thorniest challenges in U. S. history

Perhaps it would be a misnomer to declare that the candidate who finally scores 270 electoral votes on Tuesday is “the winner” when one considers the tasks at hand for the nation’s 44th president.

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The political and military quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan are the most insistent challenges because our sons and daughters are in harm’s way there. But there are other equally ominous dangers outside those theaters of war and the threats of harm they represent are deadly serious.

Consider the new economic paradigm into which either Republican Sen. John McCain or Democratic Sen. Barack Obama must attempt to lead America – a nation dependent on Iranian oil to fuel our Japanese cars as we motor to shopping malls with maxed-out credit cards to buy more Chinese goods to fill mortgaged homes teetering on the brink of foreclosure if our jobs continue to be outsourced to India and Mexico.

Global financial markets tremble daily, the fallout continues from subprime mortgages, derivatives and the trading of other indecipherable mortgage-based securities and the nation and our closest allies are mired in a credit crunch that has gripped the rest of the economy like quicksand.

The polarizing yet undeniable gap in wealth between the “haves” and the “have-nots” both at home and abroad fuels increasingly bitter political and socio-economic class warfare within our borders and disdain and resentment among friend and foe alike in the community of nations.

Not since the soaring double-digit interest rates of the Jimmy Carter administration – and the first significant realizations of America’s self-defeating addiction to OPEC oil that accompanied them in the 1970s – have Americans been as frightened, angry and disillusioned about their future.

But the current economic turmoils are in many ways far more disturbing today than when Carter capitalized on Gerald Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” buttons and his pardon of Richard Nixon’s betrayal of the public trust to recapture the White House for the Democrats after eight years out of power.

Russia, the country Americans thought that Ronald Reagan left on the political and economic scrap heap of history when he “won” the Cold War, is now filthy rich with petrodollars and spoiling for a chance to reassert its old superpower status.

The economic behemoth that is China not only drives much of the world’s trade and low-tech manufacturing, but has become America’s banker to a disturbing extent. Rural Mississippi furniture plant workers can explain the concepts of trade imbalance and tariffs far more quickly and throughly than can most economists with Ph.Ds.

Throw in the ongoing threat of global terrorism, a few nutjob dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jung Il, Burma’s Than Shwe and Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir and the ignored atrocities in sub-Saharan Africa – where 67 percent of the global total of 32.9 million people with HIV live and where 75 percent of all world AIDS deaths occur – and the reality of “winning” the election is apparent.

Darfur languishes in a state of unchallenged genocide.

When this angry campaign ends, the next president must set about facing these dire challenges at home and abroad and he will face them with an unstable economy and a sharply divided citizenry.

Whoever wins will need the prayers, support and allegiance of all Americans to have a ghost of a chance to succeed. One can only wonder if Americans are still capable of setting their differences aside, working for the common good and uniting behind Tuesday’s “winner.”

I hope so. I really hope so.

(Contact Perspective Editor Sid Salter at (601) 961-7084 or e-mail Visit his blog at