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Important issues not being discussed

While Republicans and Democrats offer far different visions of America in 2016, perhaps the most notable issue is what is not being discussed by the presidential campaigns.

Certainly there is a vacuum of discussion about the federal debt and deficit from both parties and throughout the primary seasons in the parties.

And little attention has been focused upon our public schools, where we face a crisis of conscience.

But perhaps the greatest absent issue is how do we find a path to effectively govern the nation once again? None of the issues, nor their solutions, offer any hope if we cannot, as a nation, decide effective governing is required for America to remain globally competitive and nationally productive.

The beginning point for a path forward in governing may well be in the recognition that we are not all united in our expectations of what good government would look like.

The distinction of governing a large nation effectively can only happen when we acknowledge that we are a divided nation. Not only by race and wealth, but by geography and population demographics.

From our roots of rugged individualism to our current reality that 80% of Americans now reside in urban or suburban areas, the composition of the American people has been undergoing deep and sometimes divisive change.

The rural and country regions of America have suffered economically as well as a loss of opportunity and population. But these areas still retain the frontier spirit of quiet independence as ingrained value.

Conversely, the urban/suburban regions have found, with population density, that only with community can change and improvement be accomplished. And the problems of some of our cities has reached critical proportions.

These structural divisions have divided us politically, with rural communities becoming mostly Republican, and urban communities becoming mostly Democratic. In 89 of our 100 largest cities, in 2014, we had democratic leaders.

So where do we begin to find common ground when serving rugged individualism and social connectedness?

Infrastructure and creativity seem the most likely paths to re-discovering effective governing. We need cleaner, safer water in far too many urban and rural communities, a problem we can fix. We need no modernize our power grid as is already happening in ever-widening circles of innovation. From farmers using solar energy to light their out buildings to mega corporations embracing wind and solar because it saves money and serves the environment. And we need the new, more efficient, natural gas power plants being constructed across America.

We need to repair and expand our highways and roads, both rural and urban, to keep America moving goods and services safely and affordably. In our urban areas we need safer, better trains for people and freight.

In enterprise we need the kind of innovation and encouragement that paves the way for restoring small towns that have lost their sole large employers, and in cities, jobs where no industry has chosen to build. Some of the innovation is already underway, where smart creators have discovered that America is fragmenting its markets to a form of mass individualism.

Craft beers have risen in an industry once starved for genuine competition. Small wineries have generated new sales from unique products. Uber and Lyft have made micro the once stale industry of personal paid transportation. Facebook has created connections between people in new ways.

Rural and urban Americans do not have identical interests or even similar approaches to problem solving, but they do share some interests, and the next president should begin finding what brings us together instead of what pulls us apart.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.