The most important day of 2012 is rapidly approaching. Americans will decide whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is the better person to lead our nation for the next four years.
Many voters do not have the time, inclination or an understanding of the facts to make an informed choice. And so, candidates customize their rhetoric to accommodate the people they are speaking to on any given day. Ironically, national debates are probably the least productive forums for average Americans; the facts and opinions dumped on the viewers by candidates and the political know-it-alls only serve to confuse them.
America’s wish list is not as diverse as the politicians make it out to be. Politicians are always trying to distinguish themselves from their opponents. They almost never mention what can be agreed on. (Viewers and pundits were shocked that Romney agreed with a number of foreign policy decisions made by Obama during the last debate.)
And so, I offer the following ten things I want from my government for all to examine.
1. Strong national security
Few Americans want to significantly decrease the strength of our armed forces. Politicians often debate the level of funding for the military, but everyone knows our freedom is protected by soldiers who are prepared to deal with threats to our way of life.
2. Increased anti-terrorism capability
This is a subset of national security but still deserving of special mention. The most contentious aspect of homeland security, which is responsible for monitoring, preventing and reacting to terrorism, is how many civil liberties Americans are willing to cede for more security. This issue always leads to a debate about monitoring private communications, search and seizure, drones and domestic spying. The conversations should be productive, and not create conflict between Americans who really do want the same protections for their families.
3. Thoughtful governmental regulation
This country needs regulation. Mitt Romney stipulated this during the debates. Our financial system needs to have fail-safe controls to avert disasters. Our air and water need to be protected. Consumers must be able to make purchases without the threat of scammers. Our children need protections of all sorts. Although we agree that our country needs strong regulation, it can be overbearing if it is not carefully crafted. In certain situations its cost far exceeds the benefits to society.
4. Less partisan government
One of the greatest threats to our country is the inability of the two major parties to compromise and move our country forward. As citizens, we must demand that America never again be at the precipice of a “fiscal cliff.” If the people in Washington cannot or are not willing to compromise, they should be replaced. The alternative is stagnation, obstruction, and weakness.
5. An end to class warfare
The president and Congress should care for every citizen. No group of people should be denigrated because of race, religion, preferences, or net worth. This nation has not yet put to rest decades of bigotry; and so, creating a new form of discrimination that targets those who “earn too much” and those who do not “pay their fair share” is unwise. The affluent are being attacked for political purposes even as the Internal Revenue Service approves their tax returns.
6. Greater privacy
Americans no longer are able to live a private life. Too many of us are victims of email spam and fraud, overly aggressive law enforcement, out-of-control media that hides behind the Constitution, and so on. When an American beaks the law, I support vigorous prosecution and incarceration, if appropriate. But, today, too many people are peeking into bedrooms and accosting innocents in the name of free speech and justice.
7. Less political correctness
Our government, while being overly aggressive in certain situations, is shy and reticent in others. Our leaders do not have the courage to highlight certain social, business and moral issues because they do not want to offend protected groups. As an example, the response of officials when dealing with incompetent teachers and teachers who threaten or molest our children is mindboggling. Criminal offenders should be in jail, not in rubber rooms twiddling their thumbs while receiving a salary. Any professional who has the trust of our society and who violates that trust, should be treated harshly.
8. Acceptance of others' sexual preferences
Our government must honor the rights of people with differing sexual preferences, who should be able to seek happiness in marriage and from child rearing. It has taken too long to make this the law of the land.
9. Appropriate entitlements
Many people believe the only legitimate entitlements are the ones that you pay for, such as Social Security. I disagree and believe Americans who cannot fend for themselves are entitled to care from the government. However, welfare should not be provided in perpetuity and without a commitment from those who are receiving it. Entitlement is a sensitive issue that has many important considerations including financial implications, racial overtones and moral obligations. Nevertheless, our government must stop giving money to able-bodied people without a quid pro quo. Temporary grants must be backed by obligations of the recipients to find alternative means of support. If jobs are unavailable, the government should provide them. Our system is currently a one-way deal, in which personal achievement is set aside at the expense of all other Americans. Additionally, our government should eliminate those programs that are ineffective or not benefitting those who were originally targeted.
10. Greater financial security
Our government should only become an active participant in the economy or with individual companies when serious problems develop or to prevent a disaster. Continuous intrusion impedes the free market. Some companies will prosper and some will fail. It is important for the economy to weed out the weak players. The federal government cannot guarantee that every American can be in the middle class or that they will own a home. This dream is possible only if the government provides the tools for Americans to succeed. During the past four years, the government has tried to solve a financial crisis by increasing its debt and increasing aid. If the focus had been on job creation, business confidence and relaxation of burdensome regulations, many more people would be working now. Unemployed people receive aid, while working people pay taxes. The solution has always been staring our leaders in the face.
When voters make their choice, I hope they consider more than the one or two issues that affect them. We need leadership that appreciates what the average American needs, not what they want for the average American.