What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than with a few well-timed political cartoons, eh? (Okay, yeah, I can think of a lot better ways, but still …) Thank you, TokyoSand, for our weekly does of humour amidst the rubble of our daily news!
Let’s talk a little bit about voters and issues. While we could categorize voters in numerous different ways, there are basically two kinds of voters: those who vote based on issues, and those who vote based on personality.
It was often said that the biggest reason John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election was his charisma. I was nine years old at the time, and I certainly found him charming … I loved listening to him speak (my family didn’t have television yet in 1960, so I rarely saw him)! And that’s fine for a nine-year-old child, but by the time one reaches voting age, one really ought to be considering what the candidate stands for rather than what he or she looks like, or how they speak. I also heard it said in 2016 that part of Trump’s success was a result of his charisma, but I have a hard time with that, for he isn’t nice to look at, and his speech is filled with vitriol, so … where’s the charisma?
At any rate, there’s little to be said about those who would vote based on the candidate’s personality, so let’s instead start talking about issues. Jeff and I have debated whether it is too soon to start to delve into the issues and the candidates’ views/platforms/ideologies, but after some thought, we’ve decided that with the primaries already in full swing, and Super Tuesday right around the corner, the time seems to be ripe. Next Tuesday, March 3rd, fourteen states and one U.S. territory will hold nominating contests to award a total of 1,357 delegates, or 34% of all delegates nationwide. If you are eligible to vote in the primary or caucus for your state, you will soon need to make a choice between the remaining candidates. So … what issues are most important to you?
The majority of voters are most concerned with the issues that most directly impact them and their everyday lives, such as healthcare, or if they have children, education. The economy and jobs naturally impact everyone. In 2016, Donald Trump was able to form a large enough base by creating a fear on an issue that, until then, was largely a non-issue to most people: immigration. He made it personal … he told people that immigrants were mostly all bad people – terrorists, murderers and rapists. And even the good ones, he said, were taking your jobs! He created a fear, then proposed a solution: a wall and a travel ban. It was largely hyperbole, but people bought it.
All of which points up the fact that sometimes people listen to one view or another without fully understanding the issues or their candidates’ stance on them. The more information you have, the better able you will be to make informed, wise decisions.
For today, I just want to give a bit of information about each of the major issues, and then in two weeks, I will begin to address each of the candidates’ views on the issues, so you can see which nearly match your own viewpoint. At the end of this post, there is a poll that I hope you’ll take a minute to check which issues matter most to you, as a voter.
The abortion issue is among the most polarizing in the nation. Pro-life vs Pro-Choice. The question of whether certain groups have the right to force their will on women, or whether women have autonomy over their own bodies.
This covers a myriad of sub-issues involving equality for all in the areas of housing, education and employment for minorities, religious groups, the LGBTQ community, and women. It is another highly polarizing issue, as certain groups attempt to claim that the rights of the LGBTQ community are in direct contrast with their own rights.
The economy is about more than just jobs and the stock market. It is also about things like wage levels and inflation. Trump claims bragging rights for the stable economy, but in reality he inherited a growing economy and, as we’ve seen over the past week, it is not built on a very solid foundation. The federal minimum wage has not been raised in more than ten years, while the cost of living has risen each year.
The quality of education in the U.S. has been declining in recent years, as schools are increasingly focused on preparing students for a career more than teaching them to think for themselves, to use their imaginations, to create. College has become cost-prohibitive and students leave after four years with a mountain of debt that will take them decades to repay.
Election Reform and Security
A number of Supreme Court decisions over the past years have corrupted our elections. McCutcheon v FEC, Citizens United v FEC, and a number of others involving campaign finance have opened the door to large corporations and lobbying groups literally buying a candidate. There is also the issue of election security. It is a proven fact that the Russians interfered in our 2016 election, and our own intelligence community has given us warning that the same is happening again this year. The House of Representatives has passed bills to restore the security of our elections, but the Senate has thus far refused to bring them to the floor.
This may arguably be the single most important issue nationwide today, though many seem oblivious. Trump has rolled back so many environmental regulations that this nation remains the single largest emitter of CO2 per capita in the world! The U.S. is also the only nation on the globe that is not part of the Paris Climate Accords and that is not doing virtually anything, as a nation, to protect the environment, endangered species, etc.
While ‘globalization’ has been demonized by some, it is a fact of life. In today’s world, we must interact with other nations in many areas, not the least of which are trade and shared security. How we treat our allies and how we react to others is critical to keeping not only our nation, but the world safe. Understanding of world affairs is imperative at the highest levels of government.
Free trade agreements allow goods to cross borders without tariffs or special taxes, and are a key element in keeping the cost of consumer goods low. It should be a win-win for all parties involved, but in recent years, the U.S. has made it a competitive game, which hurts everyone in the long run.
Unhappy with the way the government is being run? This largely ties into campaign finance reform, for much of the problem with our government today is that rather than representing all the people, they often seem to represent only the wealthy, leaving the other 99.9% of us out in the cold. In addition, the leaders of both the House and Senate seem to have entirely too much power, coercing our elected officials to do things their way, rather than to follow their conscience.
This is one of the biggest issues in the U.S. The vast majority of people, including gun owners, are for sensible gun legislation, such as expanded background checks, waiting periods, and even an assault weapons ban. But, due to the power and influence the NRA has over our politicians, nothing is being done, and more and more people die from guns every single day in this country.
I can’t even begin to summarize this one. ACA, the Affordable Care Act that was initiated during the Obama administration, ensured that everyone would have access to basic healthcare, regardless of income level or pre-existing conditions. Much of that has been gutted and there are now some 20 million people in this country with no health care insurance. Meanwhile, the Pharma industry, doctors, labs, and others are charging exorbitant fees. A nation that cannot or chooses not to take care of its people … all its people … has a government that is deficient.
Immigration reform is one of those things like the weather … everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything. In the last three years we have seen all the wrong things done: children separated from their parents and put in cages; billions of dollars wasted building a ridiculous wall that can be sawed through and falls down on a windy day; highly discriminatory travel bans. Young people who were brought to this country as babies by their immigrant parents are in danger of being deported, even though many are contributing to the economic and social well-being of our nation.
Roads and highways, water systems, electric grids, bridges, public transportation all fall under the heading of infrastructure. All need upgrading and continual maintenance, but we have fallen far behind. Remember Flint, Michigan and their water crisis? Well, guess what? It is still not resolved, there is still lead in the drinking water, and the latest is that rather than replace the system, the EPA is proposing rule changes that would change the way testing is done for lead and copper in water supplies.
The tax structure at present puts more of the burden on the working class than on the wealthy. Wealthy individuals and corporations pay a far lower percentage in taxes than the average worker, some companies paying not one single dime, and some even getting refunds. Meanwhile, the national debt is out of control and the government has plans to further cut the very programs that the people of this nation rely on.
A number of things fall under this broad umbrella, some of which affect us all, such as online privacy, broadband, social media, wireless communication, and more. Perhaps the most important to most of us is internet security, that took a big hit when net neutrality was repealed in 2018.
Welfare & Poverty
This is one that many people don’t think about … until they themselves are in need. The official poverty rate in the U.S. is 12.3%. Think about that one for a minute … one in every eight people in this nation live in poverty, and it is estimated that there are more than a half-million homeless people in the nation. Yet, Trump proposes cutting the very programs that help these people!
Well, there you have the issues and a brief summation of each. There are more, but I’ve already exceeded the length Jeff and I agreed on, and taken up too much of your time. In coming weeks, I will be writing expanding on these issues and giving you the views of the most viable candidates. So that we can focus on the issues that are most important to you, we ask that you take just a minute to check off the three issues that are most important to you in the short poll below.
Note: Even though the poll will show only the last answer you ticked, it is recording all three. I apologize, for I know it is confusing, but I cannot seem to find a way to leave all choices marked.
Much of what Michael Bloomberg claims will enable him to be president is his record as Mayor of New York City. Blogging friend Brendan has lived in New York City all his life, and therefore had a birds-eye view of Bloomberg’s mayoralty. What was Bloomberg really like, as mayor? Brendan is doing a short series this week, sharing his ‘birds-eye’ views with us … I think his words will provide us with some much-needed insight. Thank you, Brendan, for permission to share these posts with my readers!
As I said in my recent “blog news” post, I hope to focus on issues that are either misunderstood or “under the radar” during this election season.
One of those “under the radar” issues is the mayoralty of Michael Bloomberg in New York City, especially since he is viewed as the “alternate to Bernie” (for those who are scared of Bernie Sanders). And, considering the fact that I lived in New York for nearly his entire tenure as mayor (with the exception of my freshman year and part of my sophomore year at college), I feel that I have something to offer on this under-the-radar issue. I feel it’s under the radar because, while certain elements of his past, such as stop-and-frisk, have been highlighted, many other elements of his time as mayor seem not to be discussed as much as they should be.