Opinion Journalism by Sharon Byrne
Primary election results are certified, and Chris Mitchum will be taking on Lois Capps this fall for the 24th Congressional District.
While projecting anything off the miserable primary turnout is risky at best, it is worth nothing that the redistricted 24th is theoretically supposed to be more competitive. From aroundthecapitol.com:
Registration alone won’t determine this race, obviously. Lois comes in with enormous advantages. However, we the voting populace should push the envelope here, and demand some serious conversations during the campaign. Candidates, please don’t trot out the usual: environment, women’s rights, and Tea Party sound bytes. Debates, if there are any, will no doubt be thoroughly peppered with them. The voters with pulses already know them all. By heart.
Instead, let’s start having a serious conversation about the Big Issues in this country, and there at least a few hot ones at present that these candidates should address:
- The IRS Scandal. And that’s what it is, plain and simple. Aside from the Massive Conglomerate of TSA / NSA / DOJ / CIA / FBI and Homeland Security, no agency in the federal government strikes greater fear into the hearts of Americans than the IRS. They possess awesome powers of intimidation, scrutiny, and confiscation. Americans are required to keep 7 years of tax returns handy in case the IRS wants to rescrutinize them. As citizens, we must be able to prove what we earned, what we paid to the government in taxes, and justify all of it to the nano-level of detail. It’s therefore utterly preposterous that this same agency is capable of losing their own emails in house when those are demanded for a bit of scrutinizing. It strains incredulity that our entire Congressional body and President are not screaming in unison for heads to roll, ordering up special prosecutors and thorough investigations, and rendering operations in the IRS openly transparent to the taxpayers.
- The VA Scandal. It’s a very dark day when Sarah Palin starts looking like she was on to something re government-provided healthcare. Although the American people have chosen to provide top quality care for our veterans, what has transpired is a national disgrace. Paying out bonuses to VA top dogs while they cooked the books to massage their stats, while they shuffled veterans desperately needing care further and further out on the calendar to the point of death …it’s a terrible national disgrace. Again, our congressional body and president should be properly appalled, and immediately take firm, decisive action, starting with rolling some heads. Electeds come and go, but bureaucrats remain, and actually run the show. This batch of VA Bureaucrats have now openly shown themselves to be focused on perpetuating the income, comfort, and longevity of…themselves. Quality of care for our veterans is clearly far from their minds. It’s time to flip that dynamic, and force some serious accountability and transparency into the VA.
- The Student Loan Bubble, and Impending Shrinkage of the Economy. This is a huge problem just breaking into mainstream consciousness. Something has gone horribly wrong when college graduates are working as barristas, living with Mom and Dad, and paying down loans that approach mortgage size. Something fundamental has shifted in our economy. Gone are the days of lifetime, secure employment with a retirement pension. Those jobs only exist in government now. The current economy is more uncertain and less stable. With high debt loads, even the more successful graduates aren’t going to be in the housing market anytime soon, or will find they’re severely constrained in how much house they can buy…by their student loans. Those loan payments are for services already rendered, and thus won’t be stimulating the economy, so expect that effect to start kicking in at some point. Others are defaulting. Expect to feel that too. Maybe the US could learn something from China about where to place strategic bets in expanding one’s economy, and getting those to pay off (rather than just paying off corporations for feel-good stuff or subsidizing them because they got you elected).
There are no cute, pat answers for these problems. And this is just three of them.
I wait eagerly to hear what our candidates propose to do. I long for some fresh thinking, sharp strategizing, and some brilliant proposals to move this country forward again. Where’s the coalition-builder capable of getting things done? I want to see some real leadership talent, and get an up-close look at the highest powers of creativity these two are capable of bringing to the table. That’s the campaign that SHOULD happen.
We have to demand that, en masse, or we’ll just get the usual well-trod and market-tested talking points, followed by a high dose of mudslinging.