Last night, two starkly different presidential candidates took the debate stage. For an hour and a half, they exchanged heated barbs over those differences on subjects as varied as trade policy and beauty pageants.
But on one point, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump emphatically agree: nuclear weapons are the greatest threat the world faces.
The power of that conviction transcends partisan lines. It is bigger than a single leader, political agenda, or country. Since the dawn of the nuclear age, countless people around the world have mobilized to protect humanity from the multifaceted threat of such brutal weapons.
And last night, that work was rewarded; in front of an audience of nearly 100 million, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton acknowledged the urgency and the primacy of our nuclear problem. That message didn’t come from them. It came from you, and from everyone who fights to create a world safe from nuclear weapons.
When we launched the Race to Zero campaign, we knew that we had set ourselves a tall order. It’s difficult to bring any issue to center stage in the midst of such a noisy, complex political process. But we put boots on the ground in battleground states. We pushed presidential candidates to confront nuclear weapons and take a stance, putting our issue firmly on the radar. We held the media accountable to make sure that nuclear weapons were not just an elephant in the room.
It worked. We demonstrated to the world that the rewards of bold action are great: for the first time in decades, our issue is in the spotlight during a presidential campaign.
Lester Holt also asked the candidates to speak about no-first-use -- at a critical moment. In the last months of his office, President Obama is considering a declaration of no-first-use, a commitment that the nuclear arsenal would exist only to respond to direct nuclear attacks against the United States or its allies.
The use of nuclear weapons in any scenario is unthinkable. To use nuclear weapons first, to begin a cycle of violence that threatens human civilization? The idea is as morally repugnant as it is strategically unnecessary. There is no security for the state that sets off a chain of global devastation in the name of its own defense.
The invocation of no-first-use in a presidential debate is another breakthrough for our movement. Just a few weeks ago, the New York Times featured a compelling argument for no-first-use from a Global Zero signatory and a co-founder, General James E. Cartwright and Dr. Bruce Blair.
No-first-use is a vital next step in limiting the danger posed by nuclear weapons. We succeeded in pushing this conversation into the spotlight -- a remarkable feat -- but now we have even more work cut out for us. We must continue to pressure President Obama, as well as his potential successors, to embrace bold leadership and declare that the U.S. will never resort to using nuclear weapons first.
Take a moment to be proud of what you have accomplished -- then, take the next step and ask our leaders to do the same.
Starting a nuclear war should never be an option on the table for anyone. Send the president a letter -- urge him to change history and adopt a "no-first-use" policy on U.S. nuclear weapons.