In the middle of a campaign for the most important position in the country, we should be talking about the global economy, tensions around the world such as problems in Iran, Syria and elsewhere. We should be talking about how to best prepare ourselves for the new economic circumstances our world now inhabits or how to overhaul our tax and entitlements systems.
But we are not.
The GOP presidential nominees aren’t talking about these things. They are focused on contraception and questions of “good and evil.” The Republican Party, seems intent on not returning our country to a more prosperous state but to a different era. It has become normal for politicians on both sides to wax nostalgic about “the good old days.” Those days seems always have been in the 1950s, when — by the way, the tax rates for the highest earners was at its highest level ever. But the current crop of candidates don’t think going back to even the 50s is enough.
I get why the Republicans feel the need to return to social and religious issues, their base loves it. Think about what they want to talk about: contraception, religious wars, gay marriage. Really?
Newsflash: It’s 2012, Women can vote and most use contraception. Gay marriage will be legal everywhere in the United States during my lifetime. Nothing you do will change either of those facts. Just to be as clear on this as possible — you are on the wrong side of history on these issues but that isn’t the real problem. History doesn’t care. The problem is by wasting everyone’s time on issues that won’t be changed at this level, we fail to talk about the policies that will. You cheapen the process.
All of this is great for the Democrats. And I want President Obama to win. But as good as this is for his reelection prospects, it is bad for the country. Presidential campaigns provide an opportunity to really examine and evaluate the state of the country and the best ways to deal with the challenges we face. These should be lofty conversations and debates not petty bickering about social issues that were settled years ago (not to harp, but nothing Rick Santorum can do will turn that clock back).
When President Obama took office, I characterized the situation he faced as his “Himalayan problem.” All problems were so large individually but it was hard to gage their enormity when clumped together. I misspoke, this was not his Himalayan problem, it was ours. By choosing to focus on issues that excite one base or another at the expense of those that impact all of us, the GOP is making molehills out of our Everest sized problems and that’s unfortunate.