Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation that will ease the burden of trade and globalization on our workforce. That term, globalization, describes a world that is shrinking at the speed of technological change and human innovation. Globalization is not a monolithic force but an evolving set of consequences -- some good, some bad and some unintended. It is the new reality.
The people from my hometown who gather at Augie and Ray's are pretty astute about life. They rarely use the word globalization to describe what is happening around them -- at Augie's, in the workplace, or at home. But, they know the world is changing and feel there are forces at work beyond their control. They read people as well as they read the sports page. And, they are unafraid to give you their unvarnished view of the world. They see their neighbors losing their jobs to companies overseas. They see parts of the economy flourishing, but don't know why that's not reflected in their paychecks. They feel the squeeze of a middle class whose money doesn't go as far as it used to towards heating their homes, educating their kids or filling up their gas tanks.
The folks at Augie's care about national prestige and love of country. But, above all else, they want to be able to look at their families across the dinner table and know that they can provide for the future. As all Americans head forward into the new reality globalization has created, they want leaders who will level with them and help level the playing field.
At another point in our nation's history when there was great anxiety about the future, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told Americans that they had a rendezvous with destiny. He called upon the country to find the "warm courage of national unity," and he asked people to sacrifice. In return, he promised Americans the security of knowing that hard work and playing by the rules guaranteed certain basics -- Social Security, housing and a job. With that, he offered Americans the New Deal.
The New Deal addressed the changing needs and concerns of the nation in a time of turmoil and uncertainty. Our challenges today are no less daunting. We are heading towards a rendezvous with reality -- a reality born out of the impact of globalization. What Americans need now is a Real Deal that would restore hope for the future and remedy the inequities caused by globalization. Globalization doesn't have to be a bad thing as long as government provides us all with the tools to cope in a changing world.
Americans want to be exposed to the opportunities that a changing world can offer. For that to happen, government must focus on its core responsibilities. We must care for the health and well-being of our citizens. We must educate and train our workforce. And, we need to rebuild this country's infrastructure in a way that will create jobs and secure the nation.
Roosevelt was right when he said that reality can't be postponed or delayed. We are facing a reality now that we must confront. The Trade and Globalization Assistance Act is a step in that direction. But, the next president will need to go further to protect the American way of life. He or she can not defer to tomorrow the challenges our citizens face today.