I have the advantage of writing this before November 2, Election Day. That means I don't have to analyze the outcome of the presidential election and divine some meaning from it. Even so, the election is on my mind — on everyone's mind, it seems, and has been for months.
How could it be otherwise? We have lived through three years of trials typically associated with medieval history and epic novels: massacre, war, financial collapse. Caution and anxiety shape our outlook now. Even if we sense no personal risk (though, many of us in fact do sense it) this is the tension underlying every political disagreement.
We're told this is the most significant election of our lifetimes, and who can dispute that. A simpler time is fresh enough in our memories, and the future seems to hang on every decision. So, we've had a campaign of clear alternatives. One way ... or the other.
I have a preferred candidate, but I will be relieved to have the dead-end debate over no matter who wins, and hope that in the aftermath we can make a more comprehensive effort to understand the implications of the world we inhabit and its problems. The campaign season may have offered us a clear choice, but a series of complex situations remain. For example,
•China: There's no getting around this problem. I've written about it dozens of times in different ways, but China continues to present new dimensions of concern. It is unwilling to manage its currency supply, so its domestic economy continues to boom with no safeguard against a bust. It stokes consumer-market growth, but encourages civil discord by denying those same consumers the protection of civil or property rights. It asserts a rightful place in the global economy, but resists any calls to assume a responsible role in global security.
• Globalization: Our world has a nearly universal flow of information. We're speeding toward complete interactivity of consumer and commodity markets. On the upside, these dynamics will reward quality in products and services. Competition brings out the best. Consumers will benefit. On the downside, there is no global equivalent of the Federal Reserve Board, the EPA, the SEC, or any of the other federal agencies that protect consumers and investors against illegality and excess.
• Global roadblocks: The United Nations and its subsidiaries; the World Court; the International Monetary Fund; the World Trade Organization; and numerous other global bodies are expected to instill that sort of essential probity, but they don't do it. Perversely, they serve an entirely opposite function. They block the enforcement of international law, stall the execution of justice, overlook trade violations, subsidize bad and corrupt economies, and so on. They project the high-minded optimism of very good intentions, but make no commitment to enforcing them.
Those are a few items on my list. Each of them lie beyond the choice available to us as voters. Still, they must be addressed with conviction and steadfastness.
These are problems presented by the world beyond our voting power. I have not listed the problems we face that cross all borders ( energy supplies, illegal immigration) or those that simmer right where we live (educational standards, pension-fund liabilities.)
Every one of these, and many more, has serious implications for the metalcasting industry, too. They demand attention and need resolution. And every one is shaped by the tense, dangerous world we cannot wish away. The election is over, and it may be a long time before anything again seems so simple.