August 3, 2012; Source: ONE

It is hard to imagine that there are any NPQ Newswire readers who don’t have at least some passing familiarity with the organization called ONE, which was co-founded by Bono of the Irish rock band U2. ONE advocates for policies such as debt reduction and disease prevention in developing nations, particularly Africa.

ONE recently announced three new board members, and its selections indicate that it is predicated now more than ever on crafting a bipartisan, left/right coalition focused on alleviating African poverty.

The new board members are Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, a former Clinton administration official; Larry Summers, Clinton’s treasury secretary, Harvard President, and Obama economic advisor; and, representing a slightly more politically conservative meme, former Bush administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Summers and Sandberg were prime players in the debt relief initiatives of the Clinton Administration. As for Rice, one of ONE’s most significant victories occurred in 2003 when President Bush authorized the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). According to ONE, the move was the “largest international health initiative in history focused on a single disease.” Rice was not only a necessary player in the creation of PEPFAR, but also oversaw the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation with its billions of dollars of five-year anti-poverty aid compacts.

While Republicans and Democrats seem unable to reach any accommodations on issues of poverty here at home, is it possible that, with the exception of true wingnuts who think that anything beyond our borders should be avoided, left and right can find some common ground on strategies for eradicating poverty in Africa? The ONE board already includes the following well known political actors:

  • Josh Bolten, deputy chief of staff and later director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush

  • John Doerr, a Silicon Valley Internet millionaire who is on the boards of Amazon and Google and is a major political contributor to President Obama’s election campaigns (and who has been discussed in the NPQ Newswire and in NPQ’s Cohen Report).

  • Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Joe Cerrell, director of the Gates Foundation’s European office

  • Howard G. Buffett and Susan A. Buffett, both scions of Warren Buffett and both with their own eponymous foundations

  • Mort Halperin from the Open Society Institute, a former federal official in the Clinton, Nixon, and Johnson administrations

The announcement of the new board members rekindles the bipartisan spirit of the friendly moments that Bono and George W. Bush shared on Air Force One. Let’s assume for the moment that this ideologically broad collection of ONE board members has been able to find areas of agreement and collaboration on ONE priority issues such as duty-free/quota-free access to American, European, and Japanese markets for African goods, help for African nations with mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions as part of international efforts on climate change (as a man-made reality), and fulfillment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. How is it that they can coalesce around issues that are usually riven by huge political divides when they involve less developed regions of the world but our politicians can barely find a scintilla of opportunity for bipartisan comity when it comes to such issues at home?—Rick Cohen