In my last post, Let’s Talk About The Issues … Part I, I attempted to compare the list of issues that I consider the top five facing the nation today, with those of the nation as a whole. I had expected to cover all five on both lists, but got through only the first item on the national list. This post is the second part, but perhaps not the final.
The top five, according to Gallup survey of July 13-17 are:
- Racism/Race relations
- Dissatisfaction with government
- Ethics/Moral/Religious decline
And now my list:
- Environment/climate change
- Gun control
- Refugee crisis/immigration
Second on the national list and first on my own is racism, or as I prefer ‘bigotry’, which is a much broader term encompassing discrimination based on criteria of not only race, but religion, gender, gender-identification, nationality, etc. I have written about this at length in previous posts, so I will keep it short here. Since the shooting of a young, unarmed black man in Florida in 2012, the ugly beast of racism seems to have raised its head to a level unprecedented since the Civil Rights era of the 1950s-1960s. We have seen an increase of police shootings of unarmed black men, disparate numbers of black males are stopped by police for little, if any, reason, leading to claims of racial profiling. And the African-American community, understandably, is frightened and resentful. Unfortunately, the current political climate is only encouraging racist behaviour.
But the bigotry does not stop there. Many states have taken it upon themselves to pass laws that are contrary to the federal laws that promise equal rights for the LGBT community. While these laws are slowly, tediously being struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the states are continuing to make, pass and enact such laws, and in the process to fan the fires of bias and discrimination against the LGBT community.
Immigrants and refugees are also targets of bigotry, again enhanced by the hate-filled rhetoric that is bandied about as a result of the current political climate. Just as with any other group of humans, there are a few bad apples, but most refugees and immigrants came here hoping to build a life that would be safer than their old life, and instead they are finding danger lurks in the form of bigoted citizenry who have been told, and believe, that every Mexican is a rapist or murderer, and every Middle-Easterner is a terrorist.
Unfortunately, while I see this as the number one issue facing our nation today, I think it will require more than laws to resolve. It will require a return to humanity and sanity among the citizens of this nation, aided by laws with harsh punishment for violators.
Third on the national list of issues is ‘dissatisfaction with government’. This is too vague to address with any depth. Dissatisfied with what, specifically? I suspect that, depending on who you ask, you could get 100 different answers to this. My experience during the past 7+ years has been that when asking a person to provide specific details, they cannot. The stock answer is usually that “Obama is the worst president ever”. My response to this varies, depending on mood of the moment, but today I offer this response: “President Obama has done an excellent job in light of the fact that the people voted into office a congress that blocks him at nearly every turn. If you are dissatisfied with government, then elect some senators and representatives who will do their jobs and work with the president in the spirit of cooperation and bi-partisanship. Send to congress men and women who will put the interests of the nation before the interests of a select few. Until then, or until you at least stop being a lemming and do some reading and research to support a specific complaint, go away and hush.” Or, as my mother used to say “you made your bed, now lie in it”. Enough said on that topic.
Fourth on the national list of issues and concerns is crime/violence. According to statistics, crime has been dropping since 1991. That said, the rise in mass shootings contributes to the perception that crime is on the rise, as does the political climate and the culture of fear being developed in the self-interest of candidates with other agendas. In other words, if I want to sell more sunscreen, I must first convince you that the sun is more dangerous than in years past. Apparently, since crime made #4 on the list, this tactic is working.
And last, but not least on the national list, my personal favourite to argue discuss, Ethics/Moral/Religious decline. Where to even begin?
Ethics: moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behaviour.
Morals: a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable.
Religion: the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
The Constitution provides for each person to have the freedom to ascribe to the religion of their choice. It does not say that Christians and only Christians have that right. It gives everybody that right, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, and atheists all have the same right under the Constitution. It does not provide the right to inflict one’s beliefs on others. It also does not provide the right to discriminate against others because their beliefs are not strictly aligned with yours. As I have said many times before, ours is a secular, not a religious government. There is no “national religion”. All religions are protected, but none are afforded special privilege. Period. There is no argument. So-called “religious freedom” laws that have recently been passed in many states are not about protecting religious freedom, but rather restricting freedom of those whose beliefs may be different than others. Beliefs are protected, but discriminatory actions are not. In other words, if you refuse to serve a person in your place of business because that person’s beliefs conflict with your own, you are in violation of the law because you are denying that person his/her rights. It is a sad statement of humanity that this even needs to be stated.
As regards ethics and morals, again, this is something that is entirely too vague to address, as I fail to understand what those who see it as a problem expect our elected officials to do about either. Note the definitions above … they deal with personal beliefs. The government cannot, nor should it, make laws telling people how to think or believe. Government can only make laws pertaining to the actions of people. Believe what you will, just do not behave, based on your beliefs, in such a way that harms others or deprives them of their rights.
That wraps it up for the national list of most important issues in the 2016 campaigns. Once again, I have gotten carried away (yes, you and I both knew I would) and so I will attempt to address my own list in 1,200 words or less in my next post! As always, please feel free to comment on any or all of my points. I welcome open discourse and actually do listen and consider all points of view. So, until next time …