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Political rogue rage


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. Families suffer from the same problems where both parents are present if there are too many children for the family to support.

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. Government officials who are forced to spend most of their time raising funds cannot also devote the necessary time to their official duties. 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, and 95,000 miles of shoreline if we include Alaska and Hawaii and the coastal irregularities. Each year 500 million people enter the U.S. More than 118 million vehicles and 22.5 million cargo containers cross our borders each year. Modern technology is required to cope with the magnitude of the problem. Some people believe that we should do a massive deportation of the 11 million people who entered the U.S. illegally or remain in the U.S. illegally. That would surely generate yet one more humanitarian crisis that the world doesn’t need. And, it would irrevocably blemish America’s status as a humane leader of the world. America is a country we can be proud of; we should keep it that way. 

The national debt is $18 trillion. The average annual interest paid during the past 10 years was $409 billion. 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. There was extensive opposition to launching a war in Iraq. One of the policies the government used to minimize opposition was to borrow the money to finance the war. We will be paying taxes to pay the interest charges for a long time. The interest we pay is enough to pay $50,000 annual salaries to eight million people. It is not trivial. The national debt has recently been increasing a trillion dollars a year. It is time to apply the brakes. 

A great abundance of cameras makes police performance of duty a reality that we cannot ignore. The real problem, though, is the people who are charged with review and oversight of police conduct. They have failed. City and county councils and police commissioners need to establish clear policies and include penalties for misconduct. Police are also victims of violence, but that is not a valid excuse for police misconduct. No one is forced to become a police officer. 

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.

In 1878, the United States Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religious belief but religious practice must not violate the law. If individuals could decide which laws are valid, we would soon be in chaos. Imagine if a government official said: I am a pacifist and I don’t believe in war. Consequently, I am going to deny medical treatment for wounded soldiers. Or, imagine a fire department chief saying: The people who live in that house do things that violate my religious beliefs. Therefore, we are not going to respond to the fire alarm. Government employment is voluntary; duty is obligatory.

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. Prisoners generally do not contribute to the economy, do not pay taxes, and find it difficult to obtain employment or vote when released. Prisons are costly to operate. Excessive long term imprisonment is a failure, and we need to 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.

I am retired. I served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer, retired from military service, and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. I also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Currently, I read history, follow issues important to Americans, and write commentary.

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Reader Comments

Paula Gardner writes:

What candidates are making outrageous comments on the subject of birth control?