Economic issues, women’s issues, and healthcare have been at the forefront of the debate in this election cycle. There are, however, several issues which are conspicuous in their absence. Sometimes a lack of attention can be more telling than an open dialogue…
- R&D The US Budget for FY13 designates $142 billion dollars for research and development. The NIH spends about $30 billion annually, focusing on the origins of the diseases themselves, rather than other research which focuses on health care services and the needs of end users. I’m no scientist, and I don’t know enough about the topic to judge which route is best for the overall wellbeing of citizens. This is, however, a conversation which merits far more attention than it’s currently given.
- Climate Issues Not to beat a dead horse, but both candidates’ policies are lackluster at best. After a quick nod to green jobs at the most recent debate with the tagline of “domestic issues”, climate issues were ignored. Perhaps we need another Al Gore character on the domestic scene to draw attention back to he environment and get people fired up. Another possibility is that it might be time for the environment to become less of a partisan issue and more of a collaborative undertaking. Regardless of the route, climate change and clean energy need to take a more prominent role in our domestic discourse.
- SCOTUS Appointments The general public doesn’t seem too interested in the Supreme Court until they make a giant decision which alters the course of our country. The Supreme Court is constantly ranked as one of the lowest-priority political topics, and this has shown in election discussions this round. Supreme Court appointments could be a big deal between now and 2016, with one, two, or even possibly three seats up for grabs in the coming four years. The candidates haven’t been super clear about the types of judges they would appoint. Governor Romney has stated that he prefers strict constructionists, but has offered praise for Roberts on the basis of his political leanings. President Obama has touted his appointments of Sotomayor and Kagan, and has been known to use an “empathy standard” for his selections, but he hasn’t spoken much about his philosophy as it pertains to judicial review. Ironic for a former law professor, no?
- Basically all non-Israel/Iran foreign policy issues Is it just me, or are we hearing a whole lot about Netanyahu and nothing about Putin and Jintao? Have the politicians forgotten that the Eurozone is still in deep trouble which threatens the US economy in a big way? Both are missing out on prime criticisms of their opponents: Romney has basically no foreign policy experience and Obama arguably violated the War Powers Resolution with his handling of Libya. This international tunnel vision is disappointing, and the public should push to hear more from the candidates on a wider range of foreign policy issues. Hopefully the forthcoming debates will spark a wider breadth of dialogue.
- Poverty With all of the current rhetoric about the middle class, it seems as though the lower class has been lost in the shuffle. Little attention has been drawn to the fact that poverty rates have been consistently on the rise since 2005, and that childhood poverty rates are increasing at an even more troubling rate; retirees are also increasingly in jeopardy. Don’t get me wrong–I’m glad the middle class is getting attention it merits. Higher education affordability and mortgage defaulting are big issues which will have a huge negative impact on the country if mishandled. But let’s not forget about the people who wonder where they’ll get their next meal.
We’ll see within the next few weeks whether any of these issues come to the forefront of the debate. Let’s push the campaigns to address the more out-of-style topics which still impact the country in a big way.
Currently watching: SNL Undecided Voter