Every election the keyword seems to be “jobs” and the most polarizing issue among Americans is abortion. The War on Terror, the economy, health care, the War on Drugs…these are the popular topics I won’t be covering as I’m sure you’re well versed in them. I would like to share my opinion with you on various issues that perhaps you didn’t know about.
Let’s start with elections themselves. Everyone knows the Presidential candidates are Barack Obama and Mitt Romney from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, respectively. However, there are actually six people running for president. However, everyone is convinced there are only two “real” candidates and that they must vote for the “lesser evil.” I’d like to share with you the opinion that you should vote honestly rather than strategically.
If a party’s representative fails to meet the expectations or doesn’t fully represent your opinions, why should you elect or re-elect them? Is it because you believe they’ll actually make good on their promises for once or something less naive?
There is a group called the League of Women Voters whom were once in charge of the presidential debates until they felt the collusion between major party candidates to control the debates were doing more harm than good. The president of their group at the time, Nancy M. Neuman, said this on the issue: “It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”
And so, the two major parties joined forces to make the Commission on Presidential Elections to keep the questions easy and after 1996, to keep it to themselves. Many Republicans feel as though Ross Perot cost them the election in 1992 as he split votes that George H. W. Bush should have won. Perhaps it’s true that George H. W. Bush would have won, but a rule was instated after Ross Perot that a candidate must be at or above 15 percent in the polls in order to be allowed to enter their debates, thus ensuring that a third-party candidate would never again be able to enter the presidential debates.
But 15 percent seems like a reasonable number, doesn’t it? When you consider the funding of a third party candidate to the nearly $1 billion that both of the major party candidates have raised, it becomes more obvious that they wouldn’t be able to advertise themselves nearly as well, if at all. I’d like to argue that if a candidate is able to run for president by getting onto the ballot, they should then have a spot in the debates guaranteed to them.
Besides the shutting out of other candidates, certain ballots are intentionally misleading, certain voters are suppressed or tricked and sometimes, candidates are accused of rigging their election. In 2000, there was the infamous Florida recount, where the nation didn’t know who had won the election for a rather long time. There was a ballot in Florida called the butterfly ballot, on which, Al Gore was listed directly underneath George W. Bush on the left, so it’s guessed that many voters voted for Pat Buchanan in confusion as he had an extraordinarily higher amount of votes in areas that used the butterfly ballot.
This is a more honest mistake than what certain groups of people do to suppress votes. People have been known to inform the opposing party’s voters that the election is on a different day, tell certain voters they have to vote in an area that isn’t where they vote, or discard the voter registration sheets of people who register for an opposing party. And the fact that workers still have to work on Election Day means many may simply miss the opportunity to vote for being too busy.
In 2001, a computer programmer named Clint Curtis testified in court to having been paid to create a program that would rig an election but also make it seem as though the results were very close—51 percent to 49 percent. With the advent of privately owned voting machines, it would not be far-fetched to imagine that the private owner of these machines would have some interest in who wins the election. Considering how far out of their way groups go to mislead and suppress voters, it would not be unimaginable to think these privately owned machines may change the results. I would like to argue here for the need of public machines or paper ballots in opposition to these. There’s always going to be human error, but I would much rather risk a person counting wrong by accident than a machine counting wrong on purpose.
Whenever I hear warmongers stress that Iran is our greatest threat, it angers me beyond belief. It first implies that we have a greatest threat and it is implicitly saying that they are wrong for hating us. I’d like to state that if an Iranian hates America, they have a good reason to. For those of you that haven’t stopped reading now, Iran had democratic elections until 1953 when the United States backed a coup that installed a dictator and has suppressed its people since. But surely we had a good reason to completely screw over a nation, right? Well, yes, if you look at it from a point-of-view with no empathy. We wanted to maintain our control over their oil and it’s more difficult to negotiate with democratically-elected representatives than it is with a dictator.
Now imagine you’re Iran and you’re constantly hearing from a foreign country that you’re terrible and you’re this threat to them. Remember that this nation saying these things about you has hundreds of military bases surrounding your country. Would you not feel threatened? They are the ones who brought a dictator to power, they have every means to simply destroy you—as you could witness from your neighbor states in Iraq and Afghanistan—and now they are saying you’re a threat. Iran is not our greatest threat. We are their greatest threat.
What always comes up is that Iran is trying to get a nuclear weapon to then use on Israel or perhaps the United States. If North Korea is any example of how an authoritarian regime acts with a nuclear weapon, Iran would be screaming and screaming until people paid them not to do anything stupid, which isn’t how they’ve behaved thus far. Now from a moral perspective, could you blame them for wanting one? Nuclear powers don’t go to war with each other. It would essentially make them off-limits from invasion. Obviously we still have some economic interests with them and the trading floor becomes fairer when both parties carry a gun.
Something deeply troubling is the existence of privately-owned prisons. Running a prison should not be a for-profit operation. It’s interesting that they can make money from the situation with the slave labor it employs, but think of the implications of this. They make money from keeping people in jail. It’s within their best interest to get as many people jailed as possible for whatever the reason, which is a burden on society.
Another thing that needs to be re-examined is the death penalty. Put simply, it’s time for the death penalty to die. We’re past the age that such a barbaric practice is acceptable. Allow me to ask you this. If you kill a murderer, does that not make you a murderer? Is the person who injects the murderer with the lethal injection not guilty of murder themselves? Why shouldn’t they now be dealt the same punishment? The fact of the matter is if you commit murder, whether state approved or not, you are a murderer. We’ve been killing each other for hundreds of thousands of years and it’s high time we stop. There will always be outliers but they deserve imprisonment for the rest of their lives. To force them to live life within a cage reflecting upon their mistake for eternity is better than simply killing them. There remains the fact that because someone is found guilty in court of a crime does not mean new evidence won’t appear that reveals them as innocent. The killing of an innocent person is completely inexcusable and should never happen. We can never be too certain, so it is better to be safe and not kill them.
Another thing I strongly believe is that drug offenders should be rehabilitated as opposed to jailed. The only person they are hurting in this crime is themselves and if society deems this action inappropriate, it should be to seek help for them. How many drug offenders aren’t going to continue those drugs once they get out of jail? Many drug offenders are repeat offenders, so it’s clear that imprisonment isn’t helping or deterring them. They need the help of professionals, not metal bars.
Something I constantly hear is, “if we can send someone can to the Moon, why can’t we do X?” Fill in X with whatever cause you’d like. They portray NASA as this icon of disastrous opulence and not for what it is, perhaps the greatest administration ever created.
If I had to list every invention, everything NASA has improved or inventions that came about from NASA research, I’m sure my editors wouldn’t let me just because of how long that list would be. But, here’s some anyway in no particular order: smoke detectors, scratch resistant lenses, better insulation, those grooves on the sides of highways, firefighting equipment, memory foam, enriched baby food, cell phone cameras, the Dustbuster, solar energy, water purification, invisible braces, satellite television, and Mylar to name just a very small few.
There are over 1,500 more inventions and improvements attributed to NASA alone so one can only imagine how many came about from their research. Yes, there are other philanthropic causes that we as a country should be investing in but why take away the one administration that benefits all of mankind?