By Brendan Leroy, Columnist
With five hundred and sixty-eight days left before the election, the race for the president has begun. Four senators have announced their candidacies, none of whom were any shock. Three right-wing conservatives announced with unsurprising rhetoric: love for God, patriotism, family struggles while utilizing anti-Obama sentiment. And from the left comes Hillary Clinton, spouting diversity and ensuring that the campaign is about the people, not her yearning for the highest office. What the candidates have failed to make known are their proposed policy changes. Rather they were more successful in whining about the greatest problems in contemporary society: unemployment, health care, wealth disparity, consolidation of capitalism, growing monopolization of the private sector, education, foreign policy or environmental disasters.
During the past several weeks, the media has covered the Republicans’ religions and positions’ on their Religious Freedom Laws in Indiana and Louisiana and what Hillary Clinton ate at Chipotle in Ohio, a chicken burrito bowl with guacamole as witnessed via security cam. These stories remind me why I lose all hope during the democratic elections so admired by Americans with five hundred and sixty-eight days to go.
Americans dislike talking about the actual problems facing the country. Rather, we would much rather talk about abortion, women’s rights, marijuana, gay marriage or religious freedom. A state either has same-sex marriage or does not; women either make equal pay or do not; abortion is either being limited or is not. Americans love social issues as they do not require research or education on the subject; they only require internal emotion to issues with a select few ideological solutions, all of which lack any proper answer.
‘Illegal immigration is a crime, deport them!’ says the Tea Partier from Arizona. The Tea Partier who never cared to learn how the immigration system is constructed or how it should be fixed. The idealogue who never demonstrated how illegal workers should be deported or educating themselves as to how immigrants come to the United States, the social and political problems facing the countries from where immigrants flee, the economic hardships in Latin America or the political problems plaguing the region as a result of American intervention.
‘I’m the 99 percent, tax the rich!’ says an angry student from Maryland. The student who cannot define the current tax code or the changes that should be made. The student who does not know how much of the budget is allocated to different sectors of government or the role of the States in providing social welfare. The student who does not know the amount of revenue increased taxation would collect and where those increased funds would be allocated. The student who does not even care to understand the conservative point of view regarding the benefit of the private over public sectors, only spouting how great the tiny nations of Netherlands, Sweden and Norway are while ignoring Spain, Italy and Greece.
The far-reaching social and economic problems in the United States extend far beyond a soundbite: ‘Tax the Rich,’ ‘End the War,’ or ‘Balance the Budget.’ The core of wealth inequality stems from the middle of the 19th century’s Industrial Revolution; crime and poverty in the ghettos can be traced all the way back to the Slave Trade. The wars in the Middle East originate at least as far back as World War II and the creation of the Israeli State. Investment in the United States that compose the deficit allow the government to better control monetary flow and inflation, historically producing more positive outcomes than balanced budgets.
Americans love to complain about the outer fringes of a problem, never learning where these problems originated. They become so complex and have permeated society so deeply that explaining the real problems becomes almost impossible. The problems in the United States have become so great and so mind-bogglingly entrenched into the very fabric of this nation that the only thing we can discuss without sounding like fools is what Hillary Clinton ate at Chipotle. When the media provides us with such helpful information, it undeniably will lead to electing leaders who have the capacity to understand these issues and the willingness to make positive change.
Brendan LeRoy is a junior majoring in linguistics.