A few of my Republican compatriots have looked at me quizzically lately. They wonder why I support ONE and DATA, one fella asked if ONE was a radical left wing organization. (because that is what he’d been told by a friend) I understand not everyone has time for everything.

Few among us have time for the news in another country, especially when our nation is so vast – and in need of a sure-footing, political & economic reform, an end to the poverty within our borders, security of the borders themselves. Our 2008 presidential election is little more than a year away. Politicos will soon staff offices in Minneapolis & Denver in preparation for the Republican and Democrat conventions… the war in Iraq and defense spending loom on the daily horizon. Threat assessments are alternately seen as terrifying and superficial. School violence. Health care and education inequities. Hurricane season. A million different things burden the minds of Americans. We are a nation struggling with political correctness, and harsh realities.

All those things are tremendously important. But so is preserving our position as a beacon of individual freedoms and personal responsibilities. I look to Africa as a place of great conflict, and great hope. Look to Africa as a mirror of the United States. If our world on North America were a photograph… the negative would be Africa. Abundant natural resources. Native people filled with life, passion, hope, and redemption.

In 1999, I chose to support a man for President who spoke about poverty, and our responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Africa. He was the son of a President. A man of some wealth. HE was the answer to my prayers. (especially because I was acutely aware that “Hillary Healthcare” was alive and well – for the military. The invention of Tri-Care brought about the disastrous healthcare our wounded warriors now receive at Walter Reed and other VA medical facilities.) He was a Republican. And an unlikely Republican in many ways. He was attacked by the “Conservative movement” for not being “conservative” enough during the early stages of the primary campaign. Supposed “evangelical” folks attacked him. Ultimately, when it became clear their choice was either him, or maverick John S. McCain… they cast their lot with George Walker Bush. His route to the presidency was assured. Few hardcore politicos, and even fewer members of the press, understood what this former two-term governor of Texas meant when he spoke about compassionate conservatism.

Bush’s detractors should have listened more carefully. He supported immigration reform because he believed(s) it is immoral to tell a parent that because they are from Mexico, the life of their child is worth less than that of an American. He will not tell poverty-stricken people they do not deserve a chance for dignity. Securing our borders against drug dealers, weapons traffickers, coyotes and terrorists can – and should – be done. We must also preserve dignity for those clinging to the idea that America is indeed the Shining City on a Hill.

How can “Conservatives” (Reagan Republicans) exalt Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech in one breath – then advocate building a wall between the US and Mexico in their next breath?

President George W. Bush’s legacy will be controversial for many years. Conservatives hate themselves for not being able to convert him to their team. Never mind his accomplishments on embryonic stem cells. Never mind the partial birth abortion ban. Never mind Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito. Never mind Supreme Court Chief Justive John Roberts. Because Karl Rove could not get President Bush to be the wholly-owned subsidiary of the Reagan Conservatives…. they are punishing him with their toxic anti-immigrant chatter AND resistance to helping the people of Africa.

While politicos will debate the war in Iraq, Bush’s legacy may well be his fundamental committment to Africa. He has done more than any American President. EVER. We are all Africans. George Walker Bush knows this. “The number of sub-Saharan Africans receiving H. I. V. anti-retroviral treatment increased from about 100,000 people in 2003 to about 1.34 million people in 2006.” So says the July 2007 Vanity Fair cover featuring George W. Bush and Condi Rice. It should be noted Annie Leibovitz shot an unprecedented 20 covers – all are in circulation – featuring 21 remarkable people making a difference in Africa. The Guest Editor, Bono, has been a leading force in calling Western countries to account. Since I was a child… Bono has been calling Gen Xers to step up to the plate and deliver a meal, a dollar, or ten dollars for a net – a penny – anything — to make a difference on the continent of Africa.

Bush has been consistent in his beliefs, his support – and advocacy for improving the quality of life in Africa. Republicans… once upon a time – we were the folks of Human Rights. Human Equality. Forget Reagan. Think John Quincy Adams and Amistad. Think Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.

Africa needs us. What’s more important??? Domestic political expediency and mechanics, or actually living up to the ideas written and fought for by our Founding Fathers?

Today is World Refugee Day. What will you do? Maybe you’ll shop RED. Maybe you’ll buy a mosquito net for $10 – and save the lives of an African family – because a mosquito net means they won’t get bit by the mosquito carrying Malaria. Maybe you’ll feel a little angry at me for the diatribe. Maybe you’ll get angry enough to tell some conservative how angry you are. That would be great. Because it would mean you would talk about Africa today – and that’s a great first step. Maybe you’ll wonder if anyone is covering this issue on the news tonight. You’re in luck. Later tonight Angelina Jolie will sit down – in her role as Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency – with CNN’s Anderson Cooper at 10PM Eastern, 7 Pacific.

For my bit, I bought a mosquito net. And for every one of my books sold today, I will donate 5% of the proceeds to Malaria No More. (This organization is a part of the American Idol Gives Back program, and was also spotlighted by First Lady Laura Bush when the President announce his $1.2 Billion Global Malaria Initiative.

Among the many must-read articles in the special Africa issue of Vanity Fair is Bono’s article Meanwhile, in the Next White House. He got answers from the 2008 candidates of both parties to lay out (too briefly) their stance on Africa. It is a very revealing article. I thought Obama’s answer was lackluster, especially given his Kenyan heritage. I thought Jim Gilmore’s answer was the best among GOP candidates. It’s remarkable, however, that so many candidates – from both parties – want to continue or expand President Bush’s PEPFAR initiative. They all want to be just like him. At least on issues of human rights. How expedient.

— Media Lizzy

From Vanity Fair:
Barack Obama, senator, Illinois In Kenya, my father’s homeland, I witnessed the struggles and suffering caused by poverty and H.I.V./aids, reinforcing my belief in our common responsibility to uphold our common humanity. As president, by 2012, I will double to $50 billion annually our foreign investments, much of which will go to sustainable development and poverty reduction, and I will expand the President’s Emergency Plan for aids Relief (pepfar) by providing at least $1 billion a year in new money. America must do more than take a few steps—we must lead a global march to make this a more just and equitable world.

Jim Gilmore, former governor, Virginia While the U.S. is doing much to help with the fight against H.I.V./aids in Africa, more must be done. Success can be obtained only if America is in full partnership with African nations to turn the tide against this devastating pandemic. As president, I will commit additional American financial support. I will push for advances in efforts to end mother-to-child transmission of H.I.V./aids and insist on full accountability, to ensure that funds are being received where they are most needed and that the latest medical supplies are safe and readily available.