While we worry about terrorism, drugs, securing out borders, unemployment, North Korea and the endless slaughter in the Middle East, our biggest challenges are from within our own country.
What is the biggest challenge we face to our economic growth? The answer is the U.S. Congress. Congress is supposed to represent the people, but our elected representatives are only interested in one thing, getting reelected. Our economy today reminds me of a vision of Uncle Sam climbing up a mountain, pushing a very large boulder. The large boulder of course, is Congress. The parties’ differences are no longer about policy, which would be understandable and indeed Democratic, but about politics rather than policy. Following this path has not only proved to be detrimental to our economic recovery, but also threatens our economic future, and position in the world.
What is the biggest challenge to our national security? The answer again is the U.S. Congress. If they could pass any legislation at all, which is doubtful these days, their decisions are influenced by the lobbyists that represent the defense industry, and other players. Senators and Congressmen with an eye to the next election cycle are keen to fall into line regardless of the cost to the country, and whether the decisions and votes that they take are truly in the US interest. We have by far the most expensive, technically advanced, and bloated security structure in the world. We continue to pour billions of dollars into our military, to fight conventional wars that no longer exist, and any effort to curb these programs brings an outcry from one side or the other.
What is the biggest challenge to our democratic system? The answer again regrettably, is Congress. There has been so much gerrymandering of districts, and there is so much money poured into election campaigns, corrupting our elected officials, that we have created a situation where in the not too distant future elections will be pointless, because one party or another will have locked up their district, making it useless for the other party to even mount a campaign. Campaign finance reform has failed again and again to address these issues. Because of “The Citizens United” decision, we could foresee in the future an attractive but compliant, TV savvy, celebrity candidate backed by millions-upon-millions of dollars in mostly negative advertising, being elected as our President. The American public, can be easily manipulated particularly through TV sound bites,partisan news networks, and negative stories about the opposing candidate whether true or false. Not a happy prospect.
How do we address these problems and what are the prospects of making changes before permanent damage is done to United States and its citizens? This is something that can be addressed in a future blog.
Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com