We have endured a long siege of political rogue rage. Political candidates have resorted to outrageous statements to gain publicity. We citizens are naturally fascinated by unusual things; routine bores us. The national media respond to our need for entertainment, even if that entertainment is political and bizarre. But the end-game is serious; we must choose responsible politicians to administer our governmental functions. Our modern society is extremely complex. Finding solutions that will work is tedious and extremely difficult. There are no “slam dunks,” no quick fixes.
Politicians enthusiastically embrace foreign conflicts because that diverts our attention from difficult domestic issues. We cannot let that happen. We have an accumulation of issues that need to be addressed; they can no longer be ignored or delayed.
One of those issues is birth control. The world is bulging with a population whose activities are rapidly damaging the planet. Biology does not take a time-out, not for moral reasons, not for religious reasons. We need to promote sex education and use of contraceptives in both the U.S. and around the world. Unintended pregnancies increase the number of single parent families. The children in single parent families too often suffer from poverty, poor health, inadequate education, joblessness, and, by some accounts, generate increased crime rates.
Campaign finance reform is a make or break issue for American democracy. A government that is for sale will be owned by those who buy it. It will not be free, and it will not be a democracy. A public official who gains office because of massive financing by wealthy individuals, organizations, or businesses joins Tennessee Ernie Ford: “I owe my soul to the company store.”
The effects of climate change are showing up all around our planet. We would be foolish to ignore those changes because they may have drastic consequences for food production, sea level rise, forced refugee migration, and weather extremes. Moderating the problem will require that we change our technology or our way of life, maybe both. And “we” means not only U.S. citizens but, also, everyone else on the planet. It promises to be the struggle of the century. We need to elect officials who have the courage to deal with this problem.
Immigration control is an issue that needs to be resolved. We cannot seal the U.S. borders with a wall. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, we have 7,514 miles of border with Mexico and Canada. Each year 500 million people enter the U.S. Modern technology is required to cope with the magnitude of the problem.
The national debt is 18 trillion dollars. The average annual interest rate paid during the past ten years was 409 billion dollars. We have this debt because politicians lacked the moral courage to say to the public, we need to raise taxes or not do these projects. The national debt has recently been increasing a trillion dollars a year. It is time to apply the brakes.
Racial justice is an issue whose time has come. Prolonged discrimination against black citizens is well-documented. We need to elect public officials who are willing to work toward good solutions.
We Americans believe that we are the epitome of civilized society. Yet, we keep two million people locked behind bars. Excessive sentencing to long prison terms ruins lives, not only the lives of those who are imprisoned, but also, the lives of the families left behind. The high level of incarceration has not reduced crime; illegal narcotic drugs still flow freely, and we average 30 murders per day. Prisons are costly to operate. Excessive long term imprisonment is a failure, and we need the change the policy.
We cannot foresee the future, but we know from historical experience that unforeseen problems do occur. We would be smart to solve the known problems now. The burden falls on you and me; we need to select government officials who can do the job.
Jack Stevenson is retired. He served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer, retired from military service, and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. He also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Currently, he reads history, follows issues important to Americans, and writes commentary.