The Global Citizen: Capitol Hill
The Senate is on the verge of ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This could be amazing! The Senate has not been able to push through a multilateral treaty since the Chemical Weapons convention in 1997.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said that current U.S. laws protecting the disabled are the “gold standard” for such initiatives worldwide. He said that the treaty would “take that gold standard and extend it to countries that have never heard of disability rights.”
126 nations have already ratified the CRPD, improving the lives of over 1 billion people living with disabilities. Over 80% of the world’s disabled population lives in developing countries where the treaty would have the greatest impact. U.S. ratification of the treaty will not only maintain our essential leadership on disability issues internationally but allow us to play a key role in forming the legislation and policies that will ensure the equality and inclusion of all people with disabilities worldwide.
The evidence supporting America’s mandate for responsible leadership in Washington grows. With the support of the Global Solutions PAC, Angus King and Joe Donnelly won their elections and now join the ranks of responsible leaders in Washington.
In the state of Maine, Independent Angus King handedly took the open Senate seat, defeating Republican Charlie Summers by over 150,000 votes and Democrat Cynthia Dill by over 275,000 votes. On the topic of foreign policy, Angus King knows what is at stake and possesses the right mindset to tackle the issues.
Concerning multilateral engagement, King said that, “The United States has a strong heritage of multilateral action on important global issues, and should continue as a collaborative leader in world affairs.” This commitment to cooperation shows that we have a representative that will work on the important international issues in the most effective way. King has also voiced his support for the ICC in situations where a fair and codified court may not be available, as well as his approval of ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. These convictions show that King is a leader that will do what is right, regardless of what is popular or easy.
Keeping with the theme of voters selecting leaders that champion smart American foreign policy, we have two more races that highlight the frighteningly stark differences between two different worldviews. As with the previous post, these are officials that were supported by the Global Solutions PAC that won their elections.
We will begin with the Montana Senatorial race, where incumbent Jon Tester bested Dennis Rehberg in that race. Tester has a proven track record as a champion of American involvement globally, including votes in favor of addressing climate change, the New START Treaty, and the preservation of foreign aid funding. During his time as Senator, Tester has earned two "A-" grades on our report card in 2010 and 2012. On the other end of the spectrum, Rehberg's lack of support for international nuclear regulation, initiatives to address climate change, and proper funding to the UN earned him a "D-" in 2010 and a "D" in 2012.
With the final ballots cast and the winners and losers decided, it is clear that the people of this nation demand leaders that will address global issues in a realistic way. Because of the overwhelming results of this election, we thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at some of the more prominent winners that realize the importance of an engaged foreign policy strategy. These are leaders that Global Solutions PAC supported throughout the election.
Virginia's Senatorial race was a victory for those that champion American involvement in the international community. Winning 52.4% of the vote, Democratic candidate Tim Kaine edged out Republican candidate George Allen who garnered 47.6%. Allen's history in the US Senate gives us a clear view of his stances on foreign policy. Without fail, he voted against legislation that would have helped to address climate change, increasing funding for the global AIDS prevention services, and US involvement in the ICC. Consequentially, Allen earned a "0" (equivalent of an 'F') in 2004, a "D" in 2005, and a "D" in 2006.
"We believe that 'We're all in this together' is a far better philosophy than 'You're on your own'.'' That's how Bill Clinton summed up the philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans when he nominated President Barack Obama to run and eventually win a second term. It's also the philosophy that underpins the work of the Connect U.S. Fund. For the last eight years they have brought together a community of advocacy and grassroots groups, philanthropic foundations, and think tanks to push for farsighted American leadership in efforts to create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. They have just released a letter to President Obama and his transition team signed by over 180 foreign policy leaders, who represent millions of Americans, and came together to develop proposals to enhance U.S. global leadership and cooperation in this new presidential term. As one of its signatories, I'm excited by the detailed recommendations which lay out a blueprint for constructive and achievable U.S. actions across four key areas: human rights, climate change, nuclear weapons, and development. The letter urges the President to take action to:
The United States sent a message on Tuesday night's election: women's human rights are not to be threatened. This message was loud and clear when the country elected a record-breaking number of women to Senate. The 113th Congress of the United States will have 20 women Senators---the most women to serve in United States history. Ever.
I hope you're not wondering what could have set this precedent but if you are, let's recap:
Representative Todd Akin, who was running for Claire McCaskill's Missouri Senate Seat made his "legitimate rape" comment, explaining how the female body has "ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Richard Mourdock, running for Senate in Indiana spoke for God when he declared that when a woman gets pregnant from a rape, it "is something God intended." There were scores more of men who made similar statements.
State Representative Roger Rivard lost re-election in Wisconsin when he declared, "consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry [...] some girls, they rape so easy."
Sadly, there are a more comments like these, which you can read here.
Bill Clinton's masterful speech to nominate Barack Obama summed up the philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans saying, "We believe that 'We're all in this together' is a far better philosophy than 'You're on your own'.'' It's clear that these divergent views extend to the two parties' take on the rest of the world.
My colleague Andrew Hess has pulled together a great side by side comparison of the Ds and Rs platforms on Energy, the Environment, and Foreign Policy. There is a clear difference between the two that will impact our nation's role in an increasingly multi-polar interdependent world.
Democrats stress international cooperation, saying that "The greatest dangers we face--terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber and biological attacks, climate change, and transnational crime--cannot be solved by any one nation alone. Addressing these challenges requires broad and effective global cooperation."
For the past two and a half years, a big part of my job at Global Solutions has involved managing the work of our political action committee, Global Solutions PAC. I've met with congressional candidates from around the country, listened to their views on foreign policy, recommended endorsements and contributions to their campaigns, and attended fundraisers to show our support. It's been a great experience, and one that has taught me quite a lot.
Now, as I prepare to leave Global Solutions and embrace new opportunities, I look back on my time here and have a few thoughts and memories I'd like to share with you.
It doesn't take a genius or political pundit to know that most Americans are not primarily focused on foreign policy this year as they decide which candidates they want to send to the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. Most voters, understandably, are more focused on jobs and the economy. However, there is plenty of evidence that voters do want to see a U.S. foreign policy that remains engaged outside our borders and works with allies and international institutions to build a better world. For example, according to a recent survey by the Better World Campaign:
Last Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), seeking to gauge the treaty's performance in the time since February 2011, when it first came into effect. Witnesses brought before the committee included the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Thomas P. D'Agostino; the Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the State Department, Rose Gottemoeller; and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, Madelyn R. Creedon.
Each of the witnesses offered positive assessments of New START's effectiveness, highlighting the ways in which the agreement has helped to make nuclear relations between the US and Russia more stable and transparent. In her testimony, Gottemoeller remarked that New START has helped to improve the flow of nuclear weapons-related information between the two countries. In particular, she cited the treaty's verification mechanisms, including exhibitions of strategic arms and guaranteed on-site inspections, as concrete examples of provisions that have helped to improve the aforementioned information flow.
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