Now that Labor Day is over, the 2008 election season has officially begun. Many causes have been bandied about by both parties, all of seemingly crucial importance. Like virtually every recent election, this election is crucial to the direction and success of America, and it's key that people pay attention to the issues that matter, rather than the issues that simply divide.
To clear the air, The Obnoxious American has put together a complete list of what issues are really important, and what issues you should be ignoring this election season.
Issues you should ignore:
The other day I got a good laugh when CNN reported with all hackles raised that Fred Thompson would ban abortion. First, it's worth noting that in this great country of ours, the president does not have the authority to ban anything on his own. And while there is a chance that 2008 will yield a Republican president, the makeup of the houses will likely not change. Thompson has made some comments to the effect of creating a constitutional amendment to end abortions. This is laughable as the odds of such an amendment being ratified by 75% of the states are nearly impossible. But making such claims makes candidates sound tough on abortion, and this helps rally the evangelical base.
Thompson has been caught as a possible flip flopper on this issue, as he has been involved in pro-choice movements which he claims were actually states rights issues. Mitt Romney has made similar gyrations in either direction of pro-choice, or pro-life. Hillary is pro-choice but wants to reduce abortions as much as possible. The bottom line here is that no candidate will win a general election running on a pro-life platform. All candidates know this. Thompson is right that Roe v Wade is bad law, but I'd argue that it's bad because it does not completely protect the right to abortion. I believe that there should be law passed guaranteeing people the right to pursue whatever (tested and safe) health care choices they want to make, including abortion. Regardless of my personal view, this is an issue which will receive much talk in the coming months, but won't be acted no matter which candidate is elected.
In this day of religious warring, genocide in Africa, volatile markets and crucial decisions to be made in terms of taxes and our economy, leave it to partisan ideologues to discuss gay marriage as if it were a crisis. The Obnoxious American is in favor of gay marriage, and I find it quite hard to understand how the GOP, a party of smaller government wants to pass laws that encroach upon private life.
However, this is not an issue that is impacting most people's lives and not one that should be deciding a presidential election. Many health care plans support the notion of a life partner that is of the same sex, civil unions are now available in many states, gender based prejudice is already illegal and gender based violence is classified as a hate crime. Certainly more can be done. However, other than as a way to expose some supporters as hypocrites (i.e. both Clinton and Romney are against Gay Marriage, but Gay Rights Activists support Clinton), this is simply not an important issue for the vast majority of Americans.
I am going to catch a lot of heat for this one (no pun intended), but let's face facts. Even if we elected Al Gore to be the next president, there wouldn't be much of a reduction in terms of CO2 emissions (and judging by the way the former Vice President uses energy in his own home, we might possibly see an increase). Although signing onto the Kyoto treaty, most EU nations and Canada have fallen very short of meeting their goals, and China and India continue to pollute the atmosphere with abandon.
Whether you believe in Global Warming, or agree that it is man-made, the issue of a clean environment is always of major importance. However, such decisions have to be made considering the welfare of the country as a whole. Our environment won't matter much if our economy is in the bin and politicians on both sides know this. Any change that can negatively impact our economy has to be made with care. Further, this is an issue that won't be solved by the election of a single person to a single office. This will be something that mankind has and will always face. While we may find solutions to the environmental issues we have today, there will always be other concerns affecting the environment.
To listen to some of the left, health care, or the lack thereof is the single most important issue facing Americans today. Political doctors prescribe medicines that cure all that ills our health care system – the vast majority of these plans hearken back to the days of the politburo and waiting on potato lines. I fear that the constituency might fall for the scam of "universal health care," but some part of me believes that the American public is smarter than that. They know that the government doesn't do anything particularly well, and they are reminded as much each time they hear about Katrina, renew their drivers license or file their taxes.
It is true that 45-50 million Americans are not insured, but the solution here isn't to create a new government program (and pay for said program with increased taxes). The solution is to refine the current system, revamp how people are insured and look towards government aid as the last and smallest piece to fill the gap.
Fact is, by the afternoon of January 20th 2009, all exhortations on the topic will be as forgotten as Hillary care is today.
Did you know that George Bush has mortgaged your grandchildren’s salaries to the Saudis? Lol, just kidding. The budget deficit is probably one of the most talked about and most meaningless discussions that continue in politics today. Sure, it's better to have as small of a deficit as possible. But it's really neither here nor there. Frankly, I'd rather that my government has a deficit than a surplus, after all that's my money they are holding on to.
And the fact is that the deficit is half of what it was a few years ago, despite the predictions by my left leaning friends that it would in fact balloon out of control. Shows what a good tax reduction can do to increase the fed's take. The real deficit we should be concerned about is the trade deficit, and the loss of many good companies to more (business) friendlier areas of the world. Obviously, demonizing corporate America as is the Left's MO won't do much to solve that problem either.
Issues you must consider:
All this talk about budgets, but what is really important is whether the candidate will raise taxes. Let's get one thing straight: Raising taxes does not help the economy, nor does it create jobs. Cutting taxes on the other hand will accomplish both. Bush has been wrong about many things in his time as president, but any impartial look at the economic landscape has shown that he has been right as far as taxes are concerned.
What about taxing just the rich as so many on the left are wont to do? Fact is the rich already pay most of the taxes. The top 50% of earners pay over 90 percent of the income tax collected by our government. Americans who make less than a certain amount actually get back more in refunds from the government then they pay.
What we need is tax reform – adopting a better mechanism than what we have now. Flat tax, or consumption tax schemes have their benefits, and would raise the fed's take naturally, while making the tax code more manageable. But to hear candidates blather on about taxing the rich is a strike against them in this authors opinion.
While Hillary Clinton has been vilified as a "Corporate Democrat," whatever that means, let's recognize that we all work for companies. Companies provide goods and services and jobs. This basic element of what has made America great all of these years is what will continue to make this country great. As the UK, EU countries, and Asia are now becoming much more business friendly, we face a real struggle in order to stay competitive. The answer here is not to bite the hand that feeds, or demonize the corporate or "special interest" lobby, because at the end of the day, these are the people you work for.
The War on Iraq
We are at war. You may not agree with the premise of the war. You may have been really smart and said from the get go that we should not have gone into Iraq. You might have called it all those years ago. With that and a quarter, you can call someone and tell them how smart you are. But we are still fighting a war.
The consensus of virtually all parties who know better, except for the most virulent left wingers, is that we cannot, should not leave Iraq. Listen very closely to your candidate on the Iraq question. Are they using words such as redeployment that sound like strategy, but really mean retreat? If anyone else tried to fool you with false words, you wouldn't trust them, so why would you elect someone president who can't honestly say the words retreat?
The War On Terror
I'm not comfortable with warrantless wiretapping, but I'd prefer it over getting blown up on a bus. To some degree, this is the choice we face. Rather than attack past policy that might be misguided, what is the candidate doing to help win the war on terror? Some question what winning means, seems pretty clear to me – we win when the threat of being attacked by radical terrorists has been reduced to the point of near impossibility. Like it or not, we will either fight this good fight on our terms or be surprised when we are fighting it on the terms of terrorists. Pick a candidate that takes this threat seriously.
That's it. If it sounds like the list to ignore is much larger than the list to pay attention to, that's because it is. There are only a few issues that are crucial to the future and success of the United States, let's not get all caught up on discussions that don't really matter.