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6 Things Presidential Candidates Can Do To Make America Great
With GOP candidate Donald Trump recycling the Reagan era marketing slogan of Make America Great Again, there is a lot of focus in this presidential campaign on what needs to be done to make us a great country.
Undoubtedly, issues exist in this time period, as in all eras, that need to be addressed. Here are six down-to-earth, real-life issues they could start with.
1. Create Real Jobs For Real People
We live in a consumer-based economy which, simply put, means people need money to prime the economic engine and keep it running. However, despite all the rhetoric that we are the greatest, richest nation on earth, employment data does not support that assertion. According to the Business Insider, six of the 10 most popular jobs in the United States pay less than $28,000. The highest paying top job on the list is registered nurse ($71,000) and the other three position pay less than $36,000. These top 10 jobs employ over 29 million of the 138 million employed people – an astounding 21 percent of the workforce. The most popular position? Retail salesperson. It is the job title for 4.6 million Americans and they earn, on average, $26,340.
2. Prosecute Pharmaceutical CEOs For The Heroin Epidemic
The heroin problem in the United States did not happen overnight. It did not happen by accident. It did not happen because one morning a large segment woke up, thought what the heck, I’ll try some heroin today. It happened because of a marketing campaign, and the ensuing financial kickbacks via rebates, that was unleashed on an unsuspecting public by several pharmaceutical companies.
These companies convinced physicians to prescribe opioids, like Vicodin and OxyContin to an ever-widening pallet of illness despite knowing the highly addicted nature of the drug. In the end, the companies ensnared a large number of student athletes working men and women -- average, productive members of society. Once these addicted individuals were denied legal opioids they turned to heroin – a drug cheapened and ready for the legally-created addicts.
Now the industry is bracing for the second round of profits as medications to wean addicts off heroin – and in some cases -- to revive them after an overdose – is saturating the market. Instead of letting the industry profit off of someone addicted mother, father, sister or brother, criminally prosecute the companies that caused the epidemic and heavily fine them so the money can be diverted to help the addicted.
Handle these companies the same way the government handled the tobacco industry.
3. Stop Making The Exception The Rule
Politicians, like reporters, like to find the anomaly in a situation and expound on it. This is especially true in the age of social media when clickbait, pithy headlines, intrusive memes and a ‘see I told you so’ approach to information is now the norm. When Democrat presidential contender Hillary Clinton secured the presidential nomination, my Facebook feed included several references to ‘don’t let her tell you she made history by being the first female presidential candidate. That distinction belongs to Victoria Woodhull. Of course, Clinton never said she was the first, but rather said she was the first of a major political party. And, yes words matter.
As Mark Twain noted all those years ago, the difference between the right word, and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug. As far as Woodhull, the real mystery is how she received the distinction in the first place since she was not eligible to serve as president since she was not 35 when she ran.
This exception as the rule mindset, used by politicians since time immemorial, dumbs down the political process, leads to gridlock and perpetuates an overreliance on low-information voters for power.
4. Reinstate The Fairness Doctrine
In a time not so long ago, there was a more balanced approach to information dissemination. It was not perfect, but at least one aspect of it attempted to keep Americans more completely informed – the Fairness Doctrine.
At the heart of the FCC regulation was the belief that Americans should be given both sides of an argument, instead of being hammered with one-sided monologues. In 1987, Reagan vetoed an attempt by Congress to legislated the 40+ year policy.
Once the Doctrine was removed from the public equation, a rise in the highly-biased news and talk shows that hit the airwaves.This led to a highly partisan government and populace.
Should Voters Who Have Not Voted In Past 4 Years Be Automatically Purged From Voter Lists?
5. Make Voting Matter
As Emma Goldman said a century ago, if voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal, and of course, Trump is already setting the stage that this election is rigged. Although maybe not in the way he imagines, he is right, national elections are in many ways rigged.
Both major parties are fighting legal battles, which intensified since 2010, to write and rewrite the voting laws to suit their needs. In my state, Ohio, a traditional swing state, the Congressional Districts are so gerrymandered that despite an electorate that is basically split 50-50 as seen in the 2012 presidential election, 12 of the 16 House seats were secured by the GOP with only 55 percent of the vote.
The era of ‘strict’ voter ID laws, massaging and manipulating the electorate into politically painted corners must end if the will of the people is to be heard.
6. Give Immigrants Their Just Due
I spent several days this summer in New Orleans and as I walked along the riverfront one morning, an intriguing statue caught my eye. Unveiled in 1995, and restored in 2012, the Monument to the Immigrants is a nod to the Italian immigrants that passed through the port of New Orleans, beginning in large numbers in the late 1880s.
One of the defining aspects of the American experience has been the embracing of different cultures, nationalities, races, and religion. Instead of dismissing it, or exploiting the fear some voters have of the unfamiliar, cherish the quality of life enhanced by our willingness to let people in.
Dealing With Real Issues
Once the candidate deals with these issues, which is no small tasks, they can move onto the other issues that worry Americans, like income inequality and the environment. Or maybe, just tackle our failing infrastructure.
Anything beats fearmongering, hate or politics as usual.
© 2016 Charlie Claywell