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By Jim Kempton
The election is over, and we have a new president. Some are cheering. Some are weeping.
What I find most disturbing is not the outcome of the election, which always disappoints at least 47 percent of the electorate. It is our complete silence about the real problems or the bigger picture of what we all agree we want. Yet there is so much we agree on as far as goals. We all want good schools for our children. We all want safe streets and neighborhoods. We all want more prosperity. We all want to see the income disparity narrowed and the political fighting and stalemate improved. But we don’t talk about how, why, when and how much. Neither does most media. It doesn’t make good TV drama.
Besides jobs, what are the American people’s other concerns? The real situations were never discussed. Both parties promise jobs, but where will they come from? Did anyone bother to ask? Government didn’t come and close our factories; American businesses took them offshore. The government doesn’t import 90 percent of its products from China, Wal-Mart does. That’s part of a free market system. The reality is with a 7 billion-person world workforce, those jobs we have lost are not coming back. Donald Trump cannot force business to stop outsourcing overseas and hire people here—unless he plans on a much more authoritarian government than we have ever seen.
College (the ticket to upward mobility in the past) is now unaffordable to many Americans. And millions of jobs are going to other countries or immigrants imported here because there are literally no qualified American citizens who meet the criteria for the position. Millions of jobs we can’t fill because we aren’t qualified. What does that mean? Why aren’t we talking about it? Is government responsible?
People, overwhelmingly (margins of 80 percent left and right), want to address climate change. The two words were never uttered by any of the moderators during the debates or any news pundit for the entire 15 months of campaigning. Why not? No matter what your position, wouldn’t you want to know what your candidate thinks? What if it isn’t caused by man-made activities? It’s still going to affect us. Are we just going to ignore it because we don’t like it? Did the government cause those greenhouse emissions? Did they pollute our water?
Health insurance was a No. 1 issue in the last two elections and is still a high priority. Obamacare has been unpopular with many who have seen their premiums go up instead of down. But because the program already is a market-based program, why would we think that it caused the rise in premiums? Pharmaceutical costs skyrocketed too, but they had nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act and everything to do with big business and health insurance companies. Again, we never got specific about what is wrong and how to fix it. So what will replace this coverage and how do we expect these changes to drive down medical costs?
I’m not advocating for one side or another here. I’m trying to see how we go forward without discussing the real issues, and truly accept how little the government (especially the president) can actually do to affect those issues. They say America votes with its pocketbook, that the business of America is business. So, shouldn’t the markets of this country—banks, insurance companies, the tech sector and big business—be a part of this conversation? Why has an angry, frustrated, un-empowered public given them a hall pass? It is a real question.
Jim Kempton is an unabashed patriot with great faith in America and great curiosity about Americans. He knows the only things he has ever learned was by asking questions. Even dumb ones.