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Debate Preview: All Things Global = All Things Local

The final presidential debate starts tonight at 9 p.m. ET and will focus on global issues.  Given that topic, people may be tempted to change the channel.  But doing so would ignore the fact that our world today is more intertwined than ever before.  95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States, and when people in China buy an iPhone or open an AOL account, those decisions impact economies of our states and communities here at home.  Trade and market-access issues abroad often impact the bottom line of businesses in our neighborhoods.  Never before has the world stage been so locally important.  That’s what makes tonight’s debate a must-see event.

Ahead of the debate, ITI’s Dean Garfield was interviewed on Washington, D.C., radio station WPFW, for a show focused on how America competes with the rest of the world in this new century.  While talking about the aspects central to our economy today -- the importance of STEM education as well as the impact that foreign-born STEM graduates have on the economy, energy independence, and a tax structure that promotes job creation and investment here at home -- Dean’s central point was that technology has made the world flatter and smaller than ever before, and the U.S. needs aggressive policies to continue to be a driver of the global economy.

"I hope that both President Obama and Governor Romney will have a conversation about what the United States needs to do in order to be competitive in that world.  A part of that certainly will be trade and our trade relationship with an important trading partner like China.  But also an important part of that is what we can do here in preparing our students to be well-positioned to lead in that brave new world, including by making sure our children are more well-prepared in science, technology, engineering, and math.

"Across the spectrum of issues, whether it’s manufacturing or education, trade, all of the issues that are critical to job creation, we absolutely need an all-of-the-above strategy." 

(Click to hear highlights of the interview.)

The tech sector has pressed for that all-of-the-above economic strategy, which features a mix of education, innovation, and policies that encourage U.S. job creation, while opening and maintaining avenues for American businesses to sell products and services in foreign markets.  This is crucial given the enormous worldwide competition for jobs and investments, and the reality that every business – from the Fortune 50 companies to the small business using the web to market its products around the world – is a global business.  All things global = all things local.

It’s a point that Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, made this morning in a Politico op-ed.

"What makes far less sense is the entire premise of Monday evening.  Categorizing some issues as ‘foreign’ and others as ‘domestic’ bears little relationship to a world in which what happens out there affects conditions here and vice versa.  This is the inescapable reality of globalization, the defining characteristic of the 21st century world."

After tonight’s debate, pundits on every news channel will proclaim the winner and loser.  Here’s my prediction:  the winning candidate -- both in the debate and in the election -- will be the person who best articulates a plan for the next four years, and how America will succeed in this smaller-than-ever global community.  We don’t need a Democratic plan or a Republican plan; rather, we need an all-of-the-above American plan for job creation and long-term economic growth.

We’ll be listening tonight to see which candidate makes the case.