The great issue in 2008 is the public sense that events are out of control, that we drift deeper into dangerous waters while our leaders lack the clarity or courage to act.
This is the security gap. It spreads across the landscape of American civic life. Our military has suffered a decade of damage through disastrous execution of an unwise war, without the trumpet that summons Americans to fully join the mission.
This security gap in our military is matched by insecurity about keeping our jobs, insecurity about protecting our health, insecurity about owning our homes, insecurity about paying for our food, insecurity about how we fuel our economy and insecurity about the dangers of climate change.
Our economy is dependent on Chinese money to fund our debt and Middle Eastern oil to run our cars. Our president treats America like a pitiful, helpless giant. Instead of leading the charge for a patriotic American energy future, he virtually begs Middle Eastern despots for oil, and they rebuff him, again.
Our assets are sold to foreign owners at basement prices. Our jobs are outsourced. Our prosperity is sold at a discount. Our security, our stability and our sovereignty are mortgaged while our national confidence is eroded.
While most Americans suffer the pain of rising insecurity, a few enjoy the Gilded Age luxuries of life.
Speculation reminiscent of the Roaring ’20s runs rampant.
The daily necessities of American life are bought and sold by the hour by those who live for profit, not patriotism. They are never asked what they can do for our country, and never volunteer. They wave the flag for what they falsely call free enterprise, then attack those who support average Americans, for what they hypocritically call moral hazard.
The mission to Afghanistan faces mounting problems. Those who bragged about getting bin Laden dead or alive allowed him to escape, while his forces regroup and our insecurity rises.
Severe damage has been done to our Army, Guard and Reserve forces, with major stresses on the Marine Corps. Our global force structure has been destabilized. Our military deterrent has been dangerously eroded. Our wounded troops suffer scandals of inadequate care while our heroes suffer preventable deaths and wounds without the full support a patriotic people should demand.
Vets’ centers are overloaded and underfunded. The long-term shortfall for veterans’ care rises above a half-trillion dollars. The Group of Eight leaders meet, with seven of them yearning for our president to leave office.
Our intelligence capability lags. Our global credibility suffers. Our Marines in Afghanistan endure an extended deployment. Our military equipment is decayed. Our military recruitment requires accepting a rising number of criminals. Many of our finest young officers, West Point graduates with combat leadership experience, the future Eisenhowers and Pattons, decline to continue their service.
Those most responsible for this security gap favor a century of commitment to Iraq, have no plan to stabilize Afghanistan, have failed for seven years to kill bin Laden, and some now push a war with Iran.
This is the security gap that afflicts the troops we love, the military we support, the jobs we have, the food we eat, the medicine we take, the homes we own, the air we breathe and the children we cherish.
This is the security gap, the great issue of 2008.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House. He serves on the Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit and as contributing editor of Fighting Dems News Service. He can be read on The Hill Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.