I'm not sure whether or not Obamacare is a good idea. Watching our two candidates quibble over obscure facts and figures related to it doesn't make me feel any more well informed about it either. I think I'd need an hour long explanation of it by a team of experts to even scratch the surface.
What people wind up voting on has little to do with most of the words and positions being covered, because most people don't understand the finer points of each infinitely complex and nuanced issue. Even worse, none of all of the rhetoric gives me much comfort than anyone is actually focused on our real problems. I'm pretty sure that the unemployment rate goes a lot deeper than what government program that got enacted in the last couple of years did for it. It has to do with more fundamental issues that probably stretch back decades.
But that doesn't make for a good soundbite--people want to hear that you're going to solve everything in four years.
Unfortunately, what I think the real issues are haven't been brought up in the debate, but unless they get addressed, I'm not optimistic about this country's longer term prospects.
If I were campaigning, here are the issues I'd make a priority--and would therefore never get elected:
- Americans don't like hearing the word "no". They don't want to hear that they can't afford something, shouldn't eat something, or can't live in any sized house they want. We've gotten tremendously fat and happy at the trough literally and figuratively, but good luck telling people that kind of lifestyle can't continue.
- We're obsessed with long tail problems and not focused on what moves the needle. If you reverse engineered where and how we spend our resources, you would think that the leading causes of death in this country are terrorism and strangers kidnapping your kids. It's easier to combat other people trying to harm you than when the enemy is yourself.
- We like blaming other people. Preditory lenders, Wall Street fat cats, outsourced workers stealing jobs, immigrents, Congress--these are all the people who prevent me from being successful, ambitious and happy. Personal responsibility is so overated.
- We're afraid of anything different. We're awesome at villifying other cultures and ways of living. If you don't like apple pie, white picket fence, Jesus, marriage between a man and a woman, guns, beer, and only speaking English, then you're probably trying to harm us and we should make laws against you and bomb your country. Hey, I like apple pie just as much as the next guy, but I'll respect someone else's right not to. More for me... on cheat days anyway.
- Being smart and ambitious isn't as cool as being famous. Too many kids grow up in this country seeing that the path to success means being a professional athlete or doing something outlandish on television. Forget math and science--the way to get ahead is to get noticed for how many people notice you being noticable. What ever happened to the days where more people knew who the national chess champion was than the last winner of Dancing with the Stars?
- We see the world as black and white. Seems like all people care about are extremes--are you for this or for that? Nuance isn't respectable. The idea that you're maybe not sure exactly how you feel about capital punishment or abortion and can see multiple sides of something isn't tolerated. You should be touting a red or blue uniform with a number on the back ready to go to battle against the other side. Pick a team because there can only be one winner.
- We care more about college than we do about elementary school or high school. This generation is getting saddled by more debt than they'll ever be able to handle, because we're obsessed with the idea that everyone needs a four year degree from a top school. I don' t know about you, but I felt pretty smart before I went to college and I don't think my capacity for intellect really changed that much from 18 to 22. In fact, it's been scientifically proven that your early years do a lot more to determine your intelligence than your late years. So why are we paying so much for college? We're afraid to hire someone smart right out of high school or who went to a community college. College isn't for everyone and we should do more to provide people with usable skills before they turn 18.
- We don't care too much about learning after we finish school. The world keeps changing, but we don't really feel that much pressure to adapt. We'd rather fight tooth and nail to maintain our antiquated jobs than learn new skills to qualify for new types of jobs. Imagine if our resume education section just showed what you learned in the last two years versus what you learned when you were in your late teens? A lot of people's resumes wouldn't really look so hot.
- The couch is king. We spend more hours passively in front of the television than we ever did before. Kids don't seem to play outside anymore. People don't gather together in public. You leave the house to go somewhere via your car and then you come back. Town square? That's where the Cheesecake Factory is now--and it's definitely not for interacting with your neighbors. The few times you do interact with your neighbors, it's about Cake Boss.
- We believe that the US is the center of the world. Whether or not that's true--we need to stop acting like it. The world is more non-US centric than it's been in a long time. Instead of being so concerned that other people learn English, we should be more concerened that our kids aren't learning Chinese or Arabic. That would mean, in many people's eyes, an increase in borrowing from the Chinese and terrorists showing up on our doorstep.