Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bill Clinton at the U of MN

“I learn immediately from any speaker how much he has already lived, through the poverty or the splendor of his speech.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

That Clinton has been active in the world, and has learned much from it, was plain to hear. Clinton now moralist, now anthropologist, now politician, now political scientist, now economist, now historian, now preacher, held forth to a capacity crowd in the Northrop Memorial Auditorium.

If you couldn’t get tickets, you will be able to hear his speech on MPR. In lieu of a transcript, here are my notes, for the Pie-Eyed record. Everything italicized, in “()”, “<>” or "[]" are my comments. Everything is roughly paraphrased; nothing is a direct quotation except where indicated by quotation marks.

Introduction by Walter Fritz Mondale

Clinton…actually listens, he can think, he can write, he can speak …he is just what we need!

Enter William Jefferson Clinton stage left

The headlines tomorrow should read: ‘Mondale’s Still Got It!’ (Clinton thanks the hosts and gives a shout out to, among other people, Garrison Keillor and Wellstone)

(Referring to his over the top introduction by Mondale) Clinton’s third law of politics: always have yourself introduced by someone you appointed who will lie about you.

(Clinton gets down to the night’s business) …talk about the fundamental realities of the 21st century and what citizens can do about it to make it better. We live in an age of globalization, but I like to call it the age of interdependence. This can be good or bad. For most of us it is good. We want to know how to build up its positive forces and reduce its negative forces.

We need more integrated communities at every level—shared responsibilities, shared benefits, shared values. Many doubt that we can have shared values today. Can there be basic shared values? Yes. Though are differences should be celebrated and make life more interesting, our common humanity matters more than our differences.

Faith should not be turned into a political program.

Now, you don’t have to agree with my characterization, but you should ask yourself, what is the dominant characteristic of our age, and how can you make it better?

3 ways to make our world better:

1. We need a security strategy to combat terrorism and WMD. Since, in an interdependent world, we cannot track down and jail all our enemies, we need to build more partnerships and produce fewer enemies.

2. Millions needlessly die everywhere from preventable diseases. We know how to reduce poverty and attack these problems. The more America helps the rest of the world, the less anti-American sentiment abroad. "We related to them not in geopolitical terms but in human ones."

3. International institutions and reform of the UN. Why does anyone join any organization? Because you think you will be better off inside than outside. There would be no organizations, including marriages , if you had to agree on everything in advance. All organizations fetter the actions of their members. It is foolish for America to think that it will be the biggest dog on the block forever and that organizations get in the way of its dominance. Yes, organizations are slower to make changes, but they prevent a lot of stupid decisions from being made. America should be a part of more international organizations. China and India will be more powerful than America in the future.

Improvements that need to be made within our own country: 1. Health insurance. 2. Environment and energy policy. It is imperative that we adopt a clean energy policy to compete with China and India. 3. Balance the budget, reduce the deficit, don’t cut taxes for the rich, help the middle and lower classes achieve economic security.

"Don't use your disappointment [over election results] as an excuse to believe you are disempowered." Private citizens now have more power to contribute to the public good than ever before. “And it is important for you to know why.”

1. More than half the people in the world live in a democracy.

2. The Internet has become a powerful instrument of political action. Examples: number of small donations to political parties; amount of aid donated to tsunami and hurricane relief efforts. “It’s going to change everything.”

3. Rise of NGOs.

You are not disempowered for these three reasons: democracy, Internet, NGOs.

Global Warming is serious.

4 comments:

Joe Lencioni said...

Good speech.

One more important point that he made was that instead of dropping bombs and starting wars to help the suffering people in other countries such as Iraq, we should be dropping food. He mentioned that after the Tsunami, the international approval rating went from something like 23% to over 60% mainly because of the humanitarian work of NGOs. Instead of invading and fighting, the NGOs were treating these people like humans and just trying to help.

Additionally, during the question and answer period after the speech, Clinton was asked about the role of women in today's society. He said that more women need to feel empowered and need to stop automatically limiting themselves based solely on false categories. Also, women need to focus more on learning science and math instead of how much they are eating. When asked if America is ready for a woman president, he said that he doesn't know for sure and that he isn't sure if Hillary would run for President or not. Although, it appears that she is seriously considering running.

xtrachromosomeconservative said...

It is true, humanitarian missions are noble and necessary. But I wonder if we could have routed the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Afghanistan by dropping food. Some times, it is necessary to drop bombs, obviously the country is in disagreement over in Iraq. But such a platitude only goes so far.

PiedPiper said...

FYI, Xtra - I was also at the Clinton speech and he pointed out that such a mission as was performed in Afghanistan was necessary. His premise, however, is that the US and other Western nations need to act long before situations reach Afghanistan-sized problems. Through integrative approaches such as our public, private, and military assistance after the tsunami, the US managed to outpoll Bin Laden in the most populous Muslim nation. Why? Because people saw the US doing something for them that wasn't suspicious or violent. And those are the areas where we can beat terrorism. Bin Laden obviously couldn't offer aid to tsunami victims. He only offers violent and inflammatory rhetoric. The US can offer something real...so long as we have the domestic political will to do it.

Ilya said...

Yes, Clinton also said this twice: "In an interdependent environment, which is where we are, you cannot possibly kill, jail and occupy all of your enemies...you have to spend some time and money to make more partners and fewer enemies."