Can’t this be election year of hope?
So far it looks like a very disappointing presidential election season, one likely dominated by superficial attacks ads aimed at misinforming voters. Why? Because attack ads work and elections are too often won by defining the opposition in some negative way.
But in an America that is recovering from recession far better than most countries affected by the economic collapse (see Great Britain, Spain, Italy, France and Greece), is it not time again to be talking about hope and growth?
Instead the national dialogue seems to be about how much less the American middle class should be prepared to accept for their future.
The president talks about the urgency of a national energy policy, but does little to move a concrete plan forward. The president talks about the success of his administration in reducing illegal border crossings and increasing criminal deportations, but a full-fledged immigration policy seems highly unlikely in our immediate future.
The administration talks about making our tax policies fairer, with fewer loopholes and more balance in the richest Americans paying rates at least equal to their middle class fellow citizens. But there seems no workable path to tax equality given the political opposition.
So while President Obama continues to propose an agenda of hope, on many fronts there are no indicators of accomplishment.
That leaves Americans aware that we are falling behind other nations on having a clear, national security energy policy; left uncertain of what will become a clear immigration policy; and left unable to assume that we will ever get the richest Americans to pay a fair share of taxes.
For their part the Republicans are articulating a weird idea of hope. Given their primary campaign comments and the Ryan budget proposals, Republicans seem to be asking Americans to hope the richest Americans give other Americans jobs.
In the meantime the Republican Party suggests we can no longer afford Social Security as it is, or Medicare as it is. We can no longer afford long-term low student interest rates and we can no longer afford things like WIC or longer term unemployment compensation.
Republicans insist we can never ask the richest Americans to pay their fair share of taxes, we can never solve the millions of uninsured Americans, and we can never end the attempts by the rich to purchase our elections under Citizens United.
The best they tell us we can hope for is that, by lowering taxes even farther on businesses and the rich, they will give us jobs…maybe.
It is not good enough.
Democrats and Republicans miss the point for most Americans.
Americans want jobs, not by the charity of the rich, but by the purchasing power of a successful middle class earning a living wage.
We need to focus upon education and skills development, making college and trade schools free to those who have an aptitude to succeed. We need to find a way to make it possible for every American to be able to have good health care regardless of what the Supreme Court may decide about Obamacare.
And we need to fund the programs like Social Security and Medicare that huge majorities of Americans support.
So we will long for a presidential campaign that addresses our taxing problems and our spending priorities, but we will more likely get a campaign that re-invigorates the “Birthers” and attacks the Mormons as a cult.
We remain a great nation; we just need a few great leaders to work together for the interests of us all. It is about time to listen to the people.
Jim Crawford is retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.