Every four years, two of the best (or wealthiest) civic servants burn through millions of dollars, hours, trees, and airwaves to convince us that they are going to be the first commander-in-chief to tackle everything that they mention in their ads and debates.
That, of course, has yet to be the case. But at the very least, voters must demand that our elected officials make an earnest effort to take on the issues that are so often passed on to the next administration like a can getting kicked down Main Street. Our best plead for an answer often lies in the two major candidates’ attempt to capture some of the third party votes by slightly tapping into their platforms.
In the meantime, we are left listening to the same unaddressed (if even noted) topics election after election.
During last week’s foreign affairs’ debate, Obama and Romney firmly agreed on one of the most egregious war tactics used by the Obama administration: drones. While the seemingly unchallenged use of drones to supposedly take out all anti-American forces in the Middle East and North Africa would lead anyone to believe that it is 99.99% accurate and effective, a recent study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law suggests otherwise.
According to the report up to 881 civilians, including 176 children, have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan between 2004 and 2012. The percentage of targets killed in comparison to causalities: 2%. Who would have thought that an explosion in the middle of some residential area can actually kill more than the one intended target? Obama has already authorized six times as many drone strikes as former President George W. Bush. Until it is challenged by a major political voice, expect plenty more civilian losses to go undermined by our unwavering deification of the Department of Defense.
2. Agriculture and Food Policy.
Right before the Senate went into recess and the Pols switched gears for the election season, one of the most important issues was left up in the air: our refrigerators. There is no American who is not affected by the 700-paged half-trillion dollar Farm Bill that is renewed every four or five years — yet, we discuss the critical legislation just as rarely as the pens that sign it.
As it stands now, the Senate has suggested $4 billion worth of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly know as Food Stamps) while the House is shooting for $16 billion in cuts. Meanwhile, there are 50 million Americans and growing who are threatened by food insecurity (also known as ‘hunger’ prior to the latter years of Bush’ administration).
The current Farm Bill expired on September 30, and will likely have immediate effects on dairy farmers. The Milk Income Loss Contract program, which insures dairy farmers the difference between the volatile pricings of the dairy market and the cost of production, has expired. With less feed available for cattle following the West coast drought, we can expect small family farms to go under as dairy prices go up — but our pols can certainly afford milk by the gallons.
On a more personal level, I have a very close college friend who is nervous about passing for citizenship because of a prior court appearance over stolen pizza from campus dining; I kid you not!
If there is any issue that personifies the can that everyone on Main Street wants to get their kicks on, it is immigration. President Obama, who broke his promise to Latino voters about passing a bill for immigration reform during his first year in Office, has even admitted that comprehensive immigration reform has been one of his biggest failures during his first term. Still, he offers the typical liberal lip service: “everyone deserves a chance; especially young law abiding immigrants who go to our schools and function in society.”
Meanwhile, Obama’s administration has deported more people than any other administration. On the contrary, Romney has shifted from giving the typical conservative lip service — “everyone deserves a chance, so long as they don’t commit a crime and wait, and I mean wait, their turn” — during the primaries, to becoming virtually silent on the issue. When he used to acknowledge the issue, Romney supported self-deportation by giving immigrants the sort of heck associated with SB1070 and opposed amnesty through avenues such as college tuition and the DREAM Act. We can expect both pols to use what their party predecessors have always exercised: say just as much, or little, to hold on to your Latino vote.
4. Gun Control.
You would think the fact that the number of people who have fell victim to gun homicides in Chicago has outnumbered the death rate of U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan would give president Obama ample reasons to be vocal on gun laws. Or the fact that nearly two-thirds of American women are calling for stricter gun laws would give Romney a route to pick up this year’s all too pined for voting constituency.
Unfortunately, both candidates have offered absolutely nothing when it comes to the 50,000 Americans who were victims of gun crimes between 2006 and 2010. But should we expect anything more or less? After all, being vocal about gun laws has always been viewed as a loss at the ballot for democrats while the GOP, whether they agree or not (the assault weapons ban was created by Bush and similarly signed by Governor Romney), secures their National Rifle Association donations by using the simple logic that “people kill people; not guns.”
Not even a presidential debate in the heartland of the recent massacre in Denver, Colo., could get the candidates to say anything noteworthy about guns.
5. Social Security.
It’s in every campaign, every election, every State of the Union and asked for in every application. But can you remember the last time anyone has done anything significant to address the 2035 projected death of Social Security?
As the number of wages collected to fund the program through pay roll taxes has shrunk from 90% in the 1980s to less than 86% today, candidates need to talk about more than just tax reform to calm the millennial and middle aged American who will be left in the dark after a lifetime of serving their nation’s economy. Instead, both candidates have offered the traditional partisan lip service of claiming to be in support of social security, so long as the necessary changes are made to keep it financially viable. From a higher retirement age to lower benefit growth for wealthy retirees, there are several ways that legislators can go about making significant steps to brace America for the explosion of benefits when all the Baby Boomers are out of the workforce. Too bad no recent president has been bold enough to make those changes.
6. Indefinite Detention.
Three years ago, president Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for having the audacity to believe that the commander-in-chief of the leading nation in Democracy could close down its very own torture camp. Well, he was wrong. Instead of pushing back, President Obama practiced the old if you can’t beat them, become the captain of their team principle. In 2012, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which virtually gives the king of democracy authoritarian rights to indefinitely imprison and torture detainees like Musa'ab al-Madhwani. Naturally, changing Gitmo is about as taboo for a conservative as gun laws. But the total disregard for the inhumane and unjust acts surrounding Guantanamo Bay is anything but the mark of a leader in Democracy.
7. Wars and economic colonialism in Africa.
Along the West Bank and Gaza Strip, America projects itself as being all too concerned about border disputes for the sake of the world’s security. Unfortunately for many countries in Africa, their name isn’t Israel. More than 100,000 refugees are scattered throughout the countries surrounding Sudan because of a never ending dispute over revenues and uncertain borders between South Sudan and Sudan. Meanwhile, the U.S. has kept shut about the question of whether or not China is developing or exploiting African nations for their resources.