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Jerry E. Clark

Thoughts On The National Electorate
Thinking Things Over
By Jerry E. Clark
(May 31, 2016) -

I've been watching all the back and forth antics of the two major political parties these past few weeks - and I'm more than a bit disturbed. On the one hand, I'm having a very difficult time believing Hillary Clinton on almost any subject; on the other, I find Donald Trump's exaggerations just as difficult to believe.

The problem with these two campaigns is both are not having the right questions asked of them - not by the national press, nor even by their constituents.

We seem to lack the basic respect of both major candidates. Hillary Clinton is belatedly coming to the position that a federal minimum wage should be $15 per hour (she never has supported this prior to being challenged by Bernie Sanders) and Donald Trump wants us to believe he'll be a master at national economics, all the while clearly emphasizing that one of his key interests is to build a totally wasteful, multi-hundred mile wall.

There are some issues that should serve as a basic set of concerns for ALL of us to view the two presidential hopefuls as we make a reasonable attempt to garner the unfettered truth from them.

Here are important policy items:

• the nation has $19 trillion in outstanding public debt, not to mention trillions in what is referred to as unfunded liabilities (long term required costs in terms of pensions and governmental promises)

• several state governments, including California, Illinois, New York and even Puerto Rico, have billions in debts not covered by current taxes and face the grim prospect of having to raise taxes substantially to do so.

• the Veterans Administration is having substantial problems handling the massive job of caring properly for the nation's war veterans and retired military personnel

• the Transportation Security Administration appears to be incompetent, not just in allowing huge security wait times at airports, but for repeatedly failing security tests for weapons and other items getting past screeners.

• the Pentagon is downsizing to a degree that appears to be alarming defense specialists - and at the same time, the nation's foreign concerns and challenges seem to be rising, not abating.

• work participation is not rising and the so-called unemployment statistics are not accurate to any reasonable degree.

• the average income of the average American is NOT rising.

• college debt costs are rising and available job openings for many college graduates are not keeping up with demand. Millions of young people are living with their parents well into their 20s.

• rising urban violence is not being dealt with effectively and gun violence in many major cities is exacting a huge toll on those populations. What is the exact position of both candidates on the issue of laws on the use of firearms in the commission of crimes and or gun rights?

• ISIS, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are presenting the United States with multi-billion problems while the current administration seems not to be able to deal with any of these five effectively.

• is the current health care system working or does it need to be moved towards a single payer one (all government expense) or be changed in any significant way?

With these issues extant (and for sure, do not equal the full set of serious concerns), I would think that the two major candidates would be repeatedly questioned about policy on them. But the problem is that such questions are rare.

National TV news outlets time after time center on the latest candidate-to-candidate insults or the latest exaggeration of either. While that's fine to include as a sideline, it isn't clear to me that the average American clearly understands the implications of the stated policies of either candidate on the country's future. In short, national coverage lacks any real depth.

So, here we are, the greatest nation on earth and the nation's airwaves continue to be dominated by frivolous nonsense.

We need to see the nuts and bolts on every issue of importance from BOTH major candidates. We need to fully comprehend the implications of their policy positions so that we may make a reasonable choice come November.

So far, I'd give the national media a C- on this.

The average American has very little idea what important court cases before (or soon to come before) the Supreme Court could reshape our political landscape. We don't seem to be well-informed of the intentions of Moscow in Europe or the Middle East for that matter. We haven't heard how either candidate would deal with the soaring national debt. We don't know much about a great deal that matters.

A C- isn't a good grade. That grade could drop to a D or soar to a B+ - and which way the press goes really is the responsibility of us all. You get often what you demand, the old saying goes.

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