[one_third]Liberal – Colin Bayne
At this time in the election cycle, most candidates have released detailed policy plans designed to implement their specific visions for the future of the country. However, to ask which of these issues being addressed is the most important is an impossible question to answer.
Some voters are described as being ‘single issue.’ For example, many anti-abortion activists and supporters will back a candidate only if they agree on the issue of abortion rights. Similarly, many LGBTQ+ activists and individuals will only back a candidate if they agree with their stance on LGBTQ+ rights. For some, these issues are all that they focus on, and if a candidate supports them on these issues, the constituents will vote for them no matter what. This method of voting represents a flaw in our society.
While it is true that people may often have a more personal stake in one issue or another, a candidate often has a comprehensive vision they seek to enact. This means that only evaluating a candidate based on one issue blinds people to their other positions, and narrows the scrutiny placed on them. Often these issues can affect each other. For example, someone who is an LGBTQ+ single-issue voter might back a candidate who supports transgender rights, but the candidate may also enact immigration policies which treat asylum-seekers as hostile to the US, and imprison them in camps.
Obviously, this question is not asking about single-issue voters specifically, but it speaks to that mindset of one issue being paramount over others. In truth a candidate’s entire platform of stances should be examined. Do they support Medicare for All? Do they support Student Debt Cancellation? Do they support Debt-Free College? Will they pledge to attain zero carbon emissions by 2050? These are all the sorts of questions we need to ask of our candidates, and we need to judge them by their answers to all of them, not just one issue.
[one_third]Independent – Daniil Ivanov
Andrew Yang came onto the Democratic Debate stage to talk about one big idea: the inevitable destruction of our economy at the hands of automation.
The economy as a whole is built around growth. I, a stockholder, expect the companies that I invest in to continue to expand and find new ways to make profit. However, this method is unsustainable in both an environmental view—as we can only strip Earth’s resources to an extent—and from an economic view since companies must continuously find ways to inflate their worth.
Even an idea like the Green New Deal, an idea championed by many Democrats in which large sums of government spending would go to increasing our renewable energy infrastructure, faces the same problem. It is a temporary fix away from more environmentally taxing energy sources, but once most of the solar panels and windmills are installed, the jobs will once again disappear. Thus, the same idea of unbounded economic growth exists while shelving the problem of “where do we grow from here?”
The United Nations predicts that the world population will reach 9.8 billion by the year 2050. On the other side, as Yang consistently points out, automation and artificial intelligence are pushing more and more jobs out of the market. Retail positions are already being cut down by online retailers such as Amazon, but Amazon uses robots within their warehouses. Autonomous vehicles will render truck drivers, taxis and other vehicular vocations obsolete. Even doctors and lawyers are beginning to be threatened by artificial intelligence.
Unfortunately, it seems that criticism of Yang has been more focused on his proposed solution of universal basic income rather than his ideas being a catalyst for creative problem solving. Politicians need to stop promising job creation and economic growth—both of which are popular demands from voters—and begin to shift the frame of thought to a sustainable plan that accounts for the inevitable.
[one_third]Conservative – Mark Pothen
Truth be told, there is a bevy of different issues plaguing the American public; however, there is a greater root issue that politicians are not so apt to speak on. Andrew Breitbart, the late writer and publisher, used to famously contend that “politics is downstream from culture” and it seems that Americans have begun treating cultural issues with a sense of tribalism. This tribalism has begun to spill over into our politics and has led to dire ramifications in the social sphere such as not being able to attribute good motives onto the actions of other Americans.
For example, after every school shooting, the conversation around guns becomes about the political will to see stricter gun control policy put in effect in order to prevent children dying, when the truth is that every American grieves for the deaths of these children regardless of whether or not they are gun rights activists.
Especially on deeply important issues, instead of having a conversation about what effective policy may look like, discussions often devolve into attributing malice to someone because they disagree with the potentially terrible policy being presented. In America, this polarity in politics has begun to deteriorate all the common spaces we used to have.
Even watching football, a sport that brings people of very different backgrounds together to unite behind one team, has become politized beyond imagination. It has come to the point that as each day goes by, Americans are being more and more isolated within their respective political tribes. There will be a point where American society, and our politicians at the helm, will have to ask how we can live together anymore.