John Oyler: political issues
I recently received the “Official Democratic 2020 Presidential Survey” in the mail, accompanied by a request that I share my priorities for 2020 with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. My first reaction was quite positive – they really are interested in my opinion!
Although I consider myself a moderate, probably leaning more to the conservative side than the liberal, I am registered as a Democrat. Living in Allegheny County, there really isn’t any point in voting in the primary election unless you claim to be a Democrat.
I commend the committee for being upfront about the real purpose of the survey — question number one was “How much money are you willing to donate to our campaign?”
The sixth question requested that I prioritize seven issues currently being addressed by the Democratic Senate and Presidential candidates — gun violence, jobs and the economy, Obamacare, LGBTQ rights, abortion, environment and climate change, and voting rights.
These are all legitimate issues and I acknowledge their importance to their adherents. But none of them concern me as much as the budget deficit, population explosion, extremism and infrastructure.
The 2019 federal budget anticipated expenses of $4.4 trillion and income of $3.4 trillion. We are spending $1.30 for every $1 we bring in, and borrowing the rest. Even though this has persisted for 18 years, no one in either party seems concerned. I am! The interest on the $22 trillion debt is $1 billion a day! My highest priority is balancing the budget.
The year I was born, the population of the United States was slightly more than 124 million people. Today, we number well over 329 million — 2.65 times as many. Worldwide, the population was estimated at 2.1 billion. Today, it is slightly above 7.6 billion — 3.61 times as many.
The consequences of this massive increase are immense and are indeed a major cause of many of the issues the survey addressed. One wonders how soon the passenger list on spaceship Earth will become more than she can accommodate.
As a moderate, I am distressed at the divisiveness generated by the extremism espoused by both parties and consider this to be the major deterrent to any kind of progress. Many of the Democrats’ issues are of the category that promotes extremism, issues with no clear middle ground. I’m sure the same can be said about the Republicans. I would prefer that we declare a cease fire on the most volatile ones and concentrate on finding something significant on which we can agree.
And, of course, my “something significant” is our deteriorating infrastructure. As a civil engineer, I am keenly aware of this problem and of the numerous advantages of resolving it. In addition to enhancing our standard of living, investing in infrastructure produces jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries. I strongly support the engineering community’s recommendation our investment in all these areas be dramatically increased. It certainly is an issue that both parties claim to support. Let’s focus on it instead of fighting over extremist issues.
My observation of nearly nine decades of political turmoil suggests today’s divisive environment is part of a cycle and there is a possibility for moderates in both parties to make a comeback someday and bring us back together.