The political structure of the United States has been in a state of virtual gridlock for almost a decade. The rhetoric has been heated, often vitriolic. Yet for all that, most of the so-called debate misses the basic concerns and points.
The issue isn’t whether black lives matter. Of course they do, but concentrating on policing ignores and minimizes the need to change the circumstances in which the poorest Americans, especially minorities, live. Concentrating on the police may well reduce the number of young male minorities being shot by police, but it does little or nothing to reduce the number of young minority males being shot by other young minority males, nor does it deal with any of the other problems faced by poor minorities.
All the furor over Obamacare, aka The Affordable Care Act, focuses on who pays how much for what health care, as opposed to focusing on why health care in the United States costs incredibly more than anywhere else in the world – and often for exactly the same procedures and the exact same pharmaceuticals.
In political campaigns, the rhetoric these days seems to be more about who will impose or not impose pseudo-religious “moral values” through legislation than in dealing with bread and butter economic, infrastructure, and environmental problems.
We have the greatest level of economic inequality in more than a century and possibly the highest in the history of the United States, and every study done on this issue indicates that high income inequality hampers the economy and creates a greater number of the poor. Yet the entire issue seems to center more on avoiding the real issue – that tax rates are likely too low on the top one percent and too high on the middle class – and focuses on how tax increases on the wealthy hurt job creation [proven to be totally wrong] or how more government handouts will solve the problem [also a most dubious proposition].
Environmental issues have become a conflict between one side insisting that all environmental regulations destroy jobs and the other insisting that almost anything “environmental” is beneficial, rather than a debate over what degree of regulation is proper for what substances in what situations.
Shouldn’t we be asking the politicians exactly how they intend to address specific problems and insisting on specific answers, rather than letting them use vague sound bites to avoid the issues while appealing to the prejudices of their potential supporters?
But, of course, that won’t happen, because any politician offering specifics will lose… and that speaks badly, not only of them, but of us.