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Column: The West Is On the Ballot
US News and World Report has published Simon's fifth column, "The West Is On The Ballot," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday through the end of the year.
Be sure to also read his recent column, "The GOP Should Be Worried About Texas," in which Simon considers the demographic trends that show the state is on the precipice of going from red to blue.
An Excerpt from "The West Is On the Ballot"
In one of the more memorable riffs of the 2016 election, President Barack Obama recently said "My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Ending mass incarceration – that's on the ballot right now!"
I increasingly fear that The West is on the ballot too.
By "The West" I am mean the big American led project after World War II to build a better and more interdependent world. Inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, the United States along with our European allies chartered a course for the post war world that chose democracy, cooperation, market capitalism and peace over conflict, nationalism and authoritarianism, mercantilism and protectionism.
Arrangements and institutions like the U.N., NATO, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Trade Organization were built to advance this vision, and bring more nations and people into this emergent global system. The age of colonization ended. New nations were formed. The world began anew, and even old enemies like Germany and Japan were invited into the system.
Soon after World War II the ideas of the West developed a formidable global adversary – communism. America, along with the U.K. and our European allies and others around the world lead a four-decade cold war against Communism and its global advocates. In the late 1980s, global communism collapsed. The Soviet Union, its most significant global champion, split into 15 separate countries, including a newly-renamed Russia. After decades of global struggle, the Soviet Union/Russia was defeated ideologically and geopolitically. The West prevailed, and much of the story of the world since has the slow assimilation of rest of the world into this single global system imagined by FDR in the dying days of the second world war.
It is important to note that a key reason many rising nations over the past generation have gravitated towards this American-led global system it that it has worked. Colonialism ended. The right of self-determination of all nations no matter how small was enshrined in the founding principles of the U.N. Populations, standards of living, life expectancy have all exploded across the developing world, while rates of poverty and infant mortality have plummeted. The spread of the traditional and mobile Internet has helped spread modernity, technology and knowledge throughout the world, lessening the isolation many poor developing nations had been trapped in for centuries. While the world has seen conflict and war, there have no global conflagrations like the 20th century World Wars. All in all this global system has helped usher in what is undoubtedly the most broadly prosperous and peaceful time in all of human history.
Designing, advancing and preserving this global system has been a world-altering historic achievement by the United States and leaders of both parties over the past 70 years. No major candidate for president during this period has questioned the project, the values that animate it or America's leadership of it. Until Donald Trump that is.