Sunday, October 21, 2007

What The Election Issues Are, And What The Issues SHOULD Be.

I have watched a few debates and I see how the media and candidates characterize the “issues”. I don’t really think the media or the candidates understand what actually will be affecting us in the coming years.

Of course one issue that broadly we all agree on being important is Iraq. But that is where the agreement abruptly ends. Candidates on both sides of the aisle boil down the issue to stay or go. (Absent Ron Paul on the right and this would be a straight partisan issue.) Rarely do we get into the meat of the issue. How do we stay? How would be go? Could the troops really be pulled out in the next year or two? Would this herald the total decay of any peace in the broader Middle East? Who fills the power vacuum? Iran? Saudi Arabia? How do you combat an insurgency that has the tacit support at best and material support at worst of the very people you are trying to help? How do you keep Iranian influence out of Iraq, both political and military? Would leaving Iraq for dead and concentrating on Afghanistan be a solution?

What is not useful or helpful is posturing on Iran like we see on the right. This bravado without consequence is just silly. Looking tough on a debate stage at the cost of foreign relations and diplomacy not helpful. Relevant and informed suggestions on how we actually bring and keep Iran at the negotiating table would be. That could mean a military option but it might not. Broad pronouncements from candidates about bombing Iran only serve to distance current relations and limit options in the future.

Also, what is not useful is the lefts inability to answer clearly any question about a military option. It is obvious that everyone except Hillary Clinton has sold their soul to and the dailykos on this issue.(Hillary’s soul still belongs to the money raisers just not on this issue, this is so she can remain “electable” in a general election.) Left candidates are so scared of actually suggesting what options might be on the table that they just obfuscate and hide as to not anger their fundraising cash cow. This far left cash cow is decidedly anti-war. Any war. Any conflict. Any military action other than war. Its tragic influence on the left is only equaled to the undue influence of the Christian Conservatives on the right.

Abortion is NEVER on our collective radar until election time. (Sadly “election time” is now about two to three years prior to the actual polling!) Both parties and almost all candidates USE abortion as a wedge issue. What that means is that this issue is designed to separate and entrench voters. Politicians don’t want moderation. Moderation doesn’t raise money. A motivated base does. Nothing splits up moderation like a wedge issue. Iraq being one, global warming another and abortion being the best. Without getting into the actual issue of abortion candidates use it to their benefit to rally the base and bring in more money.

To be clear, America as a whole doesn’t care about making abortion illegal. We never discuss this issue except during an election and then only at the prodding of a candidate(s). Perhaps we should or perhaps we shouldn’t. The point is we don’t see it as of particular importance to our daily lives or we would behave and converse accordingly.

What is of particular importance is a good Job. Not a job. But a good job. In the US if you want to work you can. Plain and simple. With very few exceptions if you lose your job today you can find work of some kind in less than 1-6 months. It might not be a good job and you might have to move to where the job is but there is a job. Candidates speak in terms of employment or having a job. We now need to look towards how to have a “good” job. One that pays well and has some kind of job security. No one talks about this. We hear faintly on the left that the jobs available are not good jobs. But they don’t follow up with a suggestion on fixing the problem, only pointing out the problem as the left is so good at doing… especially if it ends in a poke at our current President.

What we need is debate on how to move from a society that relied on jobs that lasted 20 plus years and had a pension at the end to a society that is mobile and can learn and use new skills in many jobs and provide for our own retirement. The days of going to work at the factory for 20+ years and retiring is over. Putting a dollar or three into the minimum wage does nothing to fix this problem. We need to hear candidates talking about our secondary system of education not just our primary. We need to hear talk about the systemic problems we face in education that put our workers at a disadvantage the day they graduate from high school and/or college. India, China and Eastern Europe are flooding western job markets and universities. They speak several languages and will work for far less than an American. They are better educated on the primary level and ambitious. What candidate has talked about this?

Plenty of Candidates talk about health care. But what are they saying. Hillary has given us her suggestion. Bravo. I think Edwards has as well. What about the right? Thompson has weighed in but has no real plan. Rudy and Mitt have done the best in terms of detailing how Hillary’s plan will not work. (And it won’t by the way!) But they don’t have a front and center PLAN for fixing the problems of cost, availability and improved quality. Just bashing Hillary-care as socialism doesn’t work. (And it is socialism!) You must give an alternative that matches Hillary’s plan detail to detail. Where is this plan from the republicans?

Fred Thompson is the only candidate to address the fact that there will be NO Social Security in the next ten years or less. He has put forth a plan. It is detailed and it does seem plausible. But unfortunately it is getting very little press. Other candidates only talk around the issue. With the exception of Thompson here we have another instance of candidates hiding rather than confronting an issue that will be devastating to the American people very soon.

Potentially most devastating to the American people is the issue of energy. The energy debate unfortunately is being characterized successfully by the left in terms of only the environment. That in and of itself is innocuous enough, but the apocalyptical version being sold by the far left is the problem. Candidates are lost to useless arguing about the hows and whys of global warming when we could all agree on the need for conservation, innovation and stewardship. These three ideas are universal. But conservation, innovation and stewardship won’t raise money on the left or right. The fight over the world coming to an end will.

And finally, George Bush is not running for president. To debate as if he was is stupid. I don’t see the right doing this only the left. We can certainly reflect and learn from his failures but to use GW as a rallying cry or a way to motivate your base as the left is doing is really really sad. Can not the left run on the issues? Don’t the issues deserve the floor, rather than trashing GW so you can whip your kooky fringe into hysteria, i.e. donate more money. You can’t “throw the bum out”. He is already walking to the door. As the party of opposition in the presidential election the left has some responsibilities. Chief of which is framing the debate on failed policy. This responsibility is NOT met by bashing Bush and leaving out the policy as happens all too often. All you succeed in doing is lowering the level of debate by mischaracterizing the issues.

So as you decide who you are going to vote for this election season I encourage you to go beyond what is the presented face of each candidate or party and go deeper into the issues. Remember, it is we that elect these folks to office and what we consent to we encourage.

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