More Than a Moonshot or World War II-Level Mobilization: A “Nixon Goes to China” Moment

May 12, 2023 by Joshua
in Leadership

Many people see how Americans galvanized and worked together to put a man on the moon and mobilize to fight World War II and call for a moonshot or mobilization on that level. I’d love to see it, but America’s internal division seems the problem.

I propose Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China as a more relevant target to replicate. At the peak of the Cold War, it was “one of the most important turning points in 20th century history—perhaps the most important in the post-World War II era,” said Scott Kennedy, senior adviser in Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The US and China were able to overcome their antipathy to reach this détente only because of their common foe—the Soviet Union. Short of that, there would not have been this détente.”

Then Senate Democratic Leader Mike Mansfield clarified what the visit enabled, saying “only a Republican, perhaps only a Nixon, could have made this break and gotten away with it.” From then on, anybody less anti-communist than Nixon—that is, nearly anyone—could communicate with China too. Several political conservatives and libertarians have moved toward sustainability, including podcast guest and former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis. He is prominent, though not at Nixon’s level.

Everyone across the political spectrum sees that young voters care about the environment and vote accordingly more than ever, an increasing trend. Even those opposing action on sustainability most see their positions becoming increasingly untenable, losing more and more elections.

I’ve spoken in podcast episodes and written a bit here on how sustainability resonates with conservative and libertarian values. Soon a prominent opponent of sustainability will create a Nixon-going-to-China moment, maybe a Republican or CEO of a large polluting, depleting company.

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