The politics of polarization aren’t going to solve our problems

True debate has disappeared from the American Political Campaign process. Where candidates ask directly, not through proxy or via smear attacks- what makes one candidate a better choice than the other.

We’ve seen the same hot-button issues rehashed and rehashed. Hardly a day goes by without me getting a postcard telling me to save the unborn. Yet, abortion laws don’t restore our economy, nor do they put us back to work. They are used as smoke and mirrors in a magic show that gets you to ignore the real trouble this country is in: we’re broke and still acting like we’re a superpower.

Listening to the Republican presidential candidates argue over who is the true conservative is akin to watching the gauges in the cockpit to fly the plane, instead of looking out the window to see you are about to crash into a mountain. Our real problems won’t be solved by “conservatism” or “moral high-grounds” but by solving the problems at hand.

The cost of campaigning and the energy committed to the process is obscene. We need shorter, fairer election cycles. By publicly funding the process and switching to vote by mail with instant runoff balloting we can fundamentally change the political process and get better results.

Financial markets are not the economy- and shouldn’t control it. We need to bring back Glass-Stegall, re-regulate secondary and commodity markets and bring accountability back into business. We can start by having the federal government stop doing business with companies that pay their top people more than 35x what they pay their average U.S. worker (20x for non-profits). At least until unemployment is under 6%- then we may raise it to 40x if more than half your global payroll is in the U.S.

Our real military weaknesses aren’t the lack of firepower or troops, it’s that we don’t make key technologies here any more. Rare earth magnets are almost all made in China. This is a real problem if you want powerful electric motors.  Never mind the fact that we’re almost spending more than all the other armies in the world combined. We’ve already seen that the most powerful weapon to bring a country to its knees isn’t a bomb, but a move by a ratings agency to downgrade your debt. We need to pull our military out of bases across the globe, bring our troops and mercenary “contractors” back from Afghanistan and Iraq, and stop trying to “spread democracy” by pointing guns at people. Am I the only one who thinks it’s absurd to be spending $355 million to buy planes for Afghanistan while we can barely fund the FAA here? Maybe the answer is we need to invade our own country to get our government’s attention and build roads and schools?

Everyone agrees our tax system is broken, and our job-creation engine, small business, gets the short straw in almost every single instance. It’s time to change that. Simplify the collection of taxes and make it foolproof so we stop fining small businesses for missing filings- while allowing big businesses to skip paying taxes at all. To jump start small business, it’s time for a GSA EZ schedule for small businesses doing work for the government. All the people in Dayton who do business with the government will know exactly what this means.

When it comes to the “Affordable Care Act” let’s stop fooling ourselves. Mandating that we have to pay a middleman until we’re 65 and then, when medical costs start to skyrocket, the middleman gets off the hook for a single-payer public system is a crock. Health insurance isn’t health care- and doctors having to spend tons of money for administrative help instead of medical help is a farce. Investing in preventive, holistic health care for all Americans will do more to cut costs and keep workers healthy and productive than any plan involving insurance. It’s not about “Obamacare” vs. “What we have now” – it’s about offering a system that works more like what the military and the veterans have and moving on. If it works for our military and our veterans and our seniors, we should focus on improving and extending it, because while those services can’t go away- insurance companies can.

But most importantly, while our Republican presidential wannabes keep talking about bringing god and religion into our country, I prefer to discuss bringing morals and respect for the individual back. The “Patriot Act” stripped away many of our basic rights, the unregulated financial system has stolen trillions of our dollars, our dependence on fossil fuels has held us hostage to people we don’t like- and yet, the politics of polarization want to talk about “What would Jesus do?”

We need to re-evaluate so many things, all bigger than a 30=second TV spot, a sound bite on the evening news or pundits’ and pollsters’ opinions, it’s time to take a look at what we want. I don’t think America has really changed that much since I was a kid- where being a centrist was an admirable quality and extreme positions were shunned.

I wrote this piece last night and wanted to look it over in the morning- and in the NYT I read about Maine Senator Olympia Snow deciding not to seek another term:

“I do find it frustrating,” she said, “that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.”

via Snowe Opts Not to Seek Re-election In Maine – NYTimes.com.

If you really want to know what makes a candidate better than another, it’s time to ask better questions.

Because the ones we’ve been asking are the ones that got us in this mess in the first place.

Note: I am a candidate for Congress, and believe I will focus on the important issues raised above. I won’t do it because of what my party believes or because it’s what I believe, it’s because it’s what we need as Americans. I may not be able to change things- but I will be able to share the inside workings of Congress with you through this website and let your voices be heard. In this campaign, I’ve done as much as I can to shed light on the campaign trail, the candidates and the process. I hope this makes it possible for you to make an informed decision on March 6. Thank you.

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