The folks at OneVote08 are beginning a campaign today to elevate the issues of global poverty and health as issues we ought to be discussing in American politics. From their website:

On Monday, June 11, ONE is launching our biggest initiative to date. It’s an unprecedented, non-partisan campaign to make global health and extreme poverty foreign policy priorities in the 2008 presidential election….

The next president of the United States will take office in a time of great hope: there are effective and affordable solutions that save lives. AIDS drugs can now cost as little as $1 a day. A $5 bed net can keep a child from dying from a mosquito bite. With the force of more than 2 million members from all 50 states and a coalition of more than 100 non-profit, religious and charitable groups, ONE Vote ’08 will educate and mobilize voters to ensure that the next American president is committed to using “smart” power to end global poverty and keep America strong.

America is strongest when we put our best values into action — and when we act not our of fear, but out of hope. We are also strongest when we act within a framework of multilateralism, having our allies work with us to pull things forward together, as opposed to the unilateral edicts that we have seen the last few years. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: “Yee Haw!” is not a foreign policy. (H/T to zennurse on that one.) It is no coincidence that American influence has declined as we have become more and more dictatorial in our approach to foreign policy and “diplomacy” during the Bush years.

We spoke yesterday about issues of poverty in America — which are daunting and in need of much discussion and thought from eyars of neglect and inaction. But the issues of global poverty also impact all of us: it is the despair and anger and hatred born out of desperation which fuels so much of the conflict around the world. This is an issue where America has been leading for years in terms of dollars put into programs, but we have barely scratched the surface in terms of putting the hearts and minds of the American public to work on solving our own nation’s problems with poverty and health care access, let alone those of the world around us. Imagine, for a moment, what we could do if someone led the way on this?

From a press release that the OneVote08 folks sent me:

A majority of likely voters on both sides share a concern about both national security and America’s respect in the world. While uneasiness about America’s place in the world and personal security escalates, Americans remain compassionate and firm believers in justice. No matter their party, ethnicity, religion or ideology, they know saving children and families from hunger and preventable diseases is the right thing to do.

In today’s world, doing the right thing is not only a moral mission but also critical to America’s security in an interconnected world. ONE Vote ’08 will address voters’ concerns about a fading global image and national security by talking about strategic, cost-effective and proven solutions to end global disease and extreme poverty. America must utilize strategic power that will strengthen our security, create new allies, set a global example and energize moral leadership. This cannot be done through military means alone.

Healthy citizens and productive economies lead to stronger nations in the developing world. Strategic investments in ending hunger, stopping the spread of AIDS and other preventable diseases and educating children are also investments in future stability, in global allies and against future enemies.

Twelve million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Africa, yet AIDS drugs can now cost as little as $1 a day. School fees were eliminated in Kenya on Friday and on Monday, 1 million children enrolled in school. A $5 bed net can keep a child from dying from a mosquito bite and for pennies hydration tablets can keep children from dying of diarrhea. For as little as $140 per patient per year, tens of thousands of people per day can be protected from the spread of AIDS. Simple village water wells can not only prevent many waterborne diseases, it can save women and children hours of walking a day, giving them an opportunity to go to school or work. These strategic investments can save lives and secure our future.

It is time that all Americans realize that by reaching out in a way that raises up hope, for the least of us around the globe, helps us all. Putting this issue to the test with the candidates — one of whom will, ultimately, be our nation’s next President — is a great way to start.