Big question answered: Issues that should not be ignored

Published: 9/12/2019 7:30:15 AM

(Last week, we asked readers this question: “What national or international issue is not getting the attention from candidates that you think it deserves?” Here are the responses we received.)

Will they close the
detention camps?

The issue that is not getting enough attention from the candidates is the unconscionable conditions in the ICE detention camps. Children are living in squalor and some are dying. They are not getting adequate care and are suffering emotional trauma. Food is poor, and there is no attention to hygiene. Some are being moved around in the night. Where?

Private companies are running camps to the tune of $750 a day per child. Where is the money going?

Adults are being held in standing room only conditions. Diseases are breaking out and nobody is being immunized.

What do the candidates plan to do about this? Will they close the camps? Will they work to reunite children with parents?

I believe the detention camps are concentration camps, and are a disgrace to this nation and contrary to everything this country stands for.



What about North Korea’s nukes?

I am very concerned about the state of affairs with nuclear-armed North Korea, and while President Trump managed to get his foot in the door for diplomatic talks, they have fallen flat.

I want presidential candidates to say whether they would continue President Trump’s “freeze for freeze” policy, where nuclear weapons tests have ended for North Korea in exchange for an end to the provocative military exercises on the border. I also want to know whether they would pursue a formal end to the Korean War in the form of a peace treaty so that we can get into a real dialogue about how to keep both of our nations safe from the potential of a nuclear conflagration.



The global nuclear threat

There are two crises that threaten the survivability of civilization. The first, climate disruption, is at last getting the attention it deserves from political candidates and the reporters who cover them. The second, the threat posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons, gets barely a mention on the campaign trail.

Fifty years after the world’s most powerful states agreed to work for the global elimination of their nuclear arsenals, the major powers are again engaged in a build-up. It’s not so much the numbers of weapons, but their capacities and the military strategies governing their use that put humanity in peril.

For example, the Trump administration has gone into the production of nuclear weapons designed for battlefield use and begun training military forces in their use. Plans for a total rebuild of the U.S. nuclear arsenal (which started under Obama) have received barely any pushback in Congress. And there is no sign that the administration plans to resume negotiations with Russia, our major nuclear rival, with whom the New START treaty is set to expire.

Given the authority of the president to initiate global cataclysm by launching nuclear weapons, one would expect the topic to come up more often on the campaign trail.

Two years ago, voters at New London’s town meeting approved a resolution calling for us to move away from the brink of nuclear war and toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. In recent months, voters in Warner, Lee, Exeter, Alstead and Peterborough have followed suit, as have city and town councils in Portsmouth, Durham and Dover. The candidates ought to be paying attention.

Candidates should be asked to address what they will do to lessen the risk that nuclear weapons will be used, including whether they approve or disapprove of the nuclear rebuild program (expected to cost upward of $1.5 trillion), whether they intend to extend New START and how they will address our treaty obligations to negotiate a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.



Looming obliteration

The obvious and most important issue being ignored so far in this presidential campaign is the current dangerous state of the nuclear arms race.

By withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement and the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty and creating doubts about extending START, President Trump has ripped apart the bare modicum of arms control that once existed and propelled us into a new arms race.

Under the circumstances, nuclear war becomes a question of when, not if. Compounding the damage is the ongoing drain on national resources necessary to meet human needs.

Meanwhile, the Army has proposed placing small-scale nuclear power plants in war zones, and defense contractors are salivating over the chance to build and deliver them.

Even worse is our half-century of brushing aside our legal and constitutional obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate nuclear disarmament, which the Trump administration has made all the more evident.

The prospect of blowing ourselves off the face of the Earth looms on the horizon, but few care to look at it.

Among all the presidential candidates on either side so far, only Tulsi Gabbard has discussed these dangers to any significant extent, and only Bernie Sanders has stated the need to take on the military-industrial complex. One cannot help but wonder if the rest are allied with or running scared of a military-industrial complex that has become the nation’s master instead of its servant.


New London

Nuclear silence

Prioritizing the reduction of nuclear weapons leading to elimination of all nuclear weapons is the answer.

In every survey from politicians and candidates that I get, there is absolutely no question on this issue. Ergo, I add my suggestion to “other.”

Never have I received an acknowledgement of my question nor noticed even a slight nod of the head in this direction from any candidate. Not even from Democrats!

I expect silence from Republicans but am disappointed in the liberal/progressive side of politics.



Too many lies

The biggest issue facing voters is attempting to wade through the propaganda and lies on all sides. We are not getting balance or truth on either side of the issues.

Candidates are telling huge, unpractical whoppers to get votes and are not dealing with sensible issues. They are doing all of us a huge disservice.

So many good things are going on we never hear a word about. There is constant negativity and the shutting down of free speech and the sharing of ideas. The mistrust, division and non-truths in the population are wicked things.

This to me is the biggest issue of our time not being addressed.



Remember who ‘the people’ are

We are a democracy, right? We all learned it in civics class: a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” right? That’s gotten me thinking.

Our political candidates need to focus more explicitly on who, or what, “the people” means. Who are the “people” who elect our leaders? Who are the “people” who influence our lawmakers as they run our government, decide whether the climate crisis is a priority, or legislate a payment system for our health care?

And finally, who are the “people” for whom all these efforts are being made, and how should they be treated?

Our candidates need to expose the many ways our election system is at risk. Hackers from foreign governments, “bots” cleverly swaying our opinions and special interest groups getting more of a say in which candidates prevail are not actual people.

And political strategists who work to gerrymander our voting districts to favor their preferred candidates do not necessarily work to favor the will of the people.

Our candidates need to ask for the support of actual people, not corporations or special interest groups to whom they are then beholden. Then once in office they need to act on behalf of actual people.

They need to listen to our collective will, and respond to our concerns about the climate crisis and about the planet we will be leaving our children. They need to listen to our fears and place restrictions on the sale and use of weapons that will actually make us all safer. They need to realize that health care is a right, and to enact health care payment solutions that not only maintain access, but expand it to all of us. Who really doesn’t want health care, as some lawmakers assert? All of us want it; it’s the ability to pay for it that’s the problem.

And candidates need to articulate that “for the people” doesn’t just mean for their own kind of people. It means for every single one of us, regardless of race, creed, gender, income level, political affiliation or any other way we Americans can be splintered.

And, by the way, immigrants and asylum seekers are people, too! They deserve treatment with dignity as they seek what, let’s face it, we ourselves have by remarkably good fortune – probably more than by actual merit.



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