Do you still have a nagging headache from the blessedly ended presidential campaign? I do.
Romney and Obama and their handlers covered in sound bites only the bare essentials of what had to be talked about in this nation, spending most of their air time on the deficit, the debt and attacks on each other. They ducked many of the major issues of the day.
Here we have two Harvard-educated men, supposedly trained in higher-order thinking, and they presented themselves as to the nation as partisan, tactical and shallow. It was enough to deaden the minds and souls of citizens of all stripes. People couldn’t wait for the campaign to end.
Let us visit some the issues that should have been tested in the crucible of the national debate:
• Good Reasons To Go to War — We as a nation have stumbled, with guidance of the best and brightest, into godawful, unnecessary wars: Vietnam, Iraq, Libya. Just what are the hurdles that must be cleared to justify the commitment of American lives and resources to foreign wars? We know no more now than before the campaign.
• Climate Change – Climate change and what to do about it, even if the science is not entirely convincing to some, was a non-issue in the debates. Polls show most Americans say it is time to act to prevent carbon build-ups in the air.
• Environmental Advances — The same goes for other green agendas, like the protection of the Great Lakes, the container for 20% of the planet’s fresh water. Wouldn’t you have liked to hear a clarion call to restore the health of all the great ecosystems in the nation? We need a serious debate on closing the Chicago Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway to stop the incredibly damaging introduction of invasive species into the Great Lakes and Mississippi systems. The return on investment would be enormous from such initiatives. Many serious people and groups are raising the issue. So are regional governors and other politicians. Yet, in the presidential campaigns, virtual silence on the environment.
• The Forgotten Cities – The central cities in many states are in big trouble — in economic, educational, and fiscal dimensions. At the heart of their predicament is the dearth of good jobs and startup companies. Without good jobs in a community, nothing works very well. Neither candidate made our cities a core issue in their campaigns. Cities could use a little compassionate conservatism and pragmatic progressivism. They need more than a poverty strategy; they need leaders who understand a prosperity strategy that centers on startups and jobs.
• Gun Control – This ex-Marine and many others think the nation has gone gun nuts and want to see the same kinds of controls the military uses on its hand weapons. They are registered and generally locked up. The events of last week make the case once again for serious debate and action.
• Real Health Care Reform – Like it or not, access is being addressed by ObamaCare. But both men failed to bring up the major issue, the escalating costs that caused the access issue in the first place. Romney had a chance to amend Romneycare with marketplace principles, but took the incongruent position of just opposing its clone, ObamaCare. Nothing made him look more callous. The president doesn’t do the ways and means very well, so he missed an opportunity to sell the affordability of the new national law to its opponents.
The winner and loser spent most of their time on their different views – mainly on tax policy — about how to lift the economy and the prospects for a majority of American citizens. That was a necessary dialogue, but it was divisive on both sides. There was no compelling economic strategy leading to consensus from either side. Hence, the cliff impasse as we head into the president’s second term.
The barren agendas from the two candidates robbed the campaign of seriousness. There were no visionary themes. Other leaders and citizens will have to step up to the major issues that the campaigners ducked.