The Four Great Issues in the United States
by Charlie Leck
As Hemingway wrote over 70 years ago: "In the fall the War was always there, but we did not go to it anymore!"* So it is when I list the crucial, vital issues facing America and Americans in the next election. The horrible war is there, but I'm not going to it here. Beside the war, here are the great problem issues that politicians must face and solve in America?
- Poverty and the disappearance of the middle class in our nation threatens economic stability
- A new isolationist and anti-immigration movement threatens our leadership position in the world
- Health care equality is not an option but a constitutional right
- Curbing the hatred of the Christian right is vital in order to preserve an open and free America
We are still a year away from making the decision about who we'll vote for in the next national election, but let me say, without drama but with certainty, that this may be the most important election in which any of us has ever cast a vote. I have listed above the four great issues that I will use as a litmus test for the candidates. Where they stand on these matters will dictate how I vote.
Curbing the hatred of the Christian right
You can be certain that I will not vote for any candidate who is sympathetic to the right wing of the Christian faith. These are dangerous people. They are motivated by hate, rather than the love recommended by their Christ, and they teach that hatred to young children. The viciousness of the propaganda I receive from them makes me shudder in fear and nearly weep in sorrow that they so poorly understand the sacred man to whom they claim to commit their lives. We must find a constitutional way to curb the hatred promulgated by this group within our society. They not only do great harm within our nation, but they also depict us unfavorably around the world. The Christian right has no sympathy for those of us who are humanist or universalist Christians. Exclusivism is dangerous in any format. It is frightening in matters of faith. Those of you who share this concern about the pressure that the "right" puts on candidates and elected officials ought to know about PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY (founded by Norman Lear, Barbara Jordan and other outstanding Americans). This organization is a watchdog that tracks the political activity of the Christian Right and reports it.
Health Care Equality
America ranks very low among developed countries when it comes to the distribution of health care. I'll leave for further debate the quality of that health care. My concern here is that a huge percentage of Americans do not have high quality health care available to them because of its expense. Now, it's fine if a fellow American cannot afford a BMW and must settle for a Ford Taurus. That is capitalistic democracy at work. High quality health care, by rights of our democracy and according to the written guarantees of our republic, should be affordably available to every citizen of United States. To me, this is an absolute! There are no exceptions! In a two year period, a neighbor of ours, who headed a health care delivery company, earned nearly 200 million dollars in stock option bonuses. It is only one of many such examples in America. What's the point? You figure it out!
Ending the new isolationist movement and the anti-immigration movement
Opposing the immigration of certain elements (certain people) is nothing new in America. There is a history of it. Italians have faced it and so have Germans, Irish and Asians. Awful and terrible things were said about these peoples in an attempt to keep them out of the country. Today the hatred is turned against those from the Middle East and especially toward Muslims. People I normally admire for reasonableness and rationality seem to lose both on this issue. Again, we must realize that our nation was built on the openness of its borders. This is not written on the Statue of Liberty: "Come if you are white, Anglo Saxon and protestant!"
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Don't dismiss it! This is part of our rich history. It is what made us the greatest nation in the world. If we abandon this spirit, we become just another among the common nations of the world. We will have no right to leadership. We will lose the great respect and honor that has been bestowed upon us. Most frighteningly, we will abandon the challenge of our founding fathers. The religious right intends to frighten people to death on this issue. They are hate-mongering and even telling giant fibs. They speak without substance!
Restoring a balance of wealth
There are probably more diplomatic ways to say it, which won't so offend the radicals on the far right, but the wealth of the nation has become too unbalanced. That is the same as saying that the middle class has lost its position of eminence and power. It is an elementary principle of sociology that a culture needs a strong, diverse and respected middle class. If politicians know what is good for us, they will legislate the middle class back into a position of such respect and strength.
If you are looking for a list of issues on which to judge the campaigning politicians in the next year, I recommend this one to you. Print it out! Post it on the refrigerator. See how the campaigners stack up on these issues.
*In Another Country (1928)
"In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early."