|THE POLITICAL PROCESS|
have commented on hundreds of topics and and issues. To read some selected
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Foreign Policy/National Security
Murrell of Pensacola, FL:
While there are many critical issues facing our nation on both domestic and international fronts, I would have to choose as the MOST important issue, Campaign Finance Reform. It goes to the heart of so many of our domestic woes. The solution would need to be multi-faceted, but elements would include increased public funding of campaigns and MUCH more free air time for political debate by the candidates.
Hagenbuch of Gilroy, CA:
There is no way to change it, and no way to legislate it it either, but I am so sick and tired of every single difference between approaches to problem solution being characterized on the basis of "them" vs. "us."
Anything that differs from the Democrat view is scorned as anti-children, or anti-old folks, or anti-American, etc., ad nauseum. Fools like Rangel. Daschel, Gephart, etc. demonize everybody involved in anything that they don't agree with. This is a crime. The White House aids and abets this dialogue-stifling by reducing everything to "my way or no way," and damns Republicans for having a simple difference of opinion.
Statesmanship is dead. It's BEEN dead for 40+ years! I'm ashamed of my representative, whom I thought could rise above petty politics and evaluate issues on merit, but NO ONE seems able to do that any more.
I will not support either party this election, financially or in any other way.
N. Newshutz of Rochester, MN:
Low voter participation and poor public views of government lead to questions of legitimacy of the government.
I think a major issue should be what is the legitimate role of government.
The Declaration of Independence implies that the legitimate role of government is the protection of basic rights: life, liberty, and property.
The current unquestioned view presented by the media and polititians is that government's role is to solve people's problems. That most laws/regulations fail to solve the problems they address and seem to create two new problems for each attempt is not discussed, because of the underling assumption on the role of government.
Joslin of Oakton, VA:
I would like to comment on the style of campaigning. The candidates need to deal realistically with cynicism. Mostly what they say is that they are against it. It should be remembered that the most famous cynic wandered around with a lantern, looking for an honest man.. As a cynic, I would like to see evidence that one of the candidates exhibits an uncomely honesty-or at least cares enough to simulate it. He might say, "I made mistake when I was a kid and I did inhale." He might be pro choice and anti gun control. He might deliver speeches with the clumsy lack of polish of Harry Truman. He might tell the press, "that's a private matter and none of your damned business," and trust that we well agree with him. In short, he might stop underestimating the American public and recognized that we are not afraid of a little human inconsistency. Cynics are, as Linda Hunt said in "The Year of Living Dangerously," failed Romantics.
M. Irwin of Canby, OR:
Campaign 2000 should be about important issues like campaign finance reform, Social Security & Medicaid/Medicare, and international policy. Currently we are bogged down in celebrity politics which entertain, but hurt our nation since it makes the campaign more of a circus then a serious arena for debate.
Powell of Tehachapi, Ca.:
All of your guests seem to concentrate on having the government getting involved in our lives even more. You need to have someone on the panel that is not out in left field. Do you know any Libertarians?
Brogadir of Williamsville, NY:
One issue supersedes all others; but how to name it and how to confront it? The myth is continued that officials are elected to govern. With all too few exceptions, the reality is, rather, that their jobs are and their efforts directed to achieve office and to keep it. Positions are held and actions taken with these goals in mind. The goodness of the endeavors, their affect on the governed, is incidental. Anything that will embarrass the opposition is promoted. Anything is courted and desired; failure in foreign policy, harm to our servicemen and women, domestic unrest and unhappiness. Legislation is bought; in gun control, in health care, in environmental issues and just about all else. Governor Bush already has purchased his candidacy; who is this man who may be our President, the "leader of the free world?" Are these views to be characterized as hyperbole, as cynicism? I ask, can they honestly be refuted?
Stahl of Stevensville, Mt.:
I believe it is about time to bring accountability to the political system. Accountability for what one says and accountability for one's actions. The Presidential election arena is the ideal place to start a movement to assure that campaign statements (promises) are kept after the election. This should be the first step in assuring that accountability for all promises in the political system is mandatory. This issue has not been properly addressed and therefore has not been enforced in government. Good business is based on accountability. The CEO is accountable to the stock holders, the next level executives are accountable to the CEO, etc.
Without enforced accountability businesses fail. Only government personnel are not held accountable for their actions and that is why government is inefficient and unproductive. Industry only succeeds if a profit is made. Governments are not required to make a profit and are not measured by performance. Therefore, elected officials are not measured on their performance and waste and inefficiency is the byproduct. Let us start at the top and made the President of the United States accountable for all his promises. Let the people have a way to measure this. Campaign promises should be made in writing and the President's should be regularly measured to assure compliance. This is the jist of my suggestion for a campaign dialog.
Gellermann of New York, NY:
For me the issue that is more fundamental than all the issues mentioned by your panelists is: How do we change our system of elections so that "We the People" can truly make our views known in ways that do not give excessive weight to the views of people and organizations with money?
That's the issue. In brief, it is the "campaign reform" issue (including. but not limited to, finance reform). In my view that is fundamental to the issues raised by:
Haynes Johnson - "What is our public purpose?" and "What do we Americans want to do with what we have?"
Shelby Steele - "How do we support both individual and collective responsibility?"
Doris Kearns Goodwin - "How do we achieve economic justice?" and "How do we balance family and working life?" [And I'm sure campaign reform is just as fundamental to the issues raised by your other panelists.]
One of your panelists, Haynes, I think, mentioned the decreasing participation in elections. My hunch is that's due to people feeling that their votes don't matter -- and, because of the current "rules" of campaigning, they may well be right. Collectively they ("We") could make a difference but under the current rules of campaigning (and the good times the panelists identified) it is difficult to imagine "We the People" getting energized to express our views. Your segment on issues for Election 2000 could make a difference. I hope so.
Clark of Palm Harbor, Fl.:
What happened to tax reform? Now that there is a surplus, should we forget all about it? I suggest simplifying the system by taxing only the States, leaving the States to tax the individual. Also,in terms of including individual responsibility for government policy it is incumbent on us to formalize the public forum in such a way as to give it credence. If all I am doing is yelling at the wind who will hear my voice? The birthplace of Democracy, Greece, understood the value of public forum, where is our Town Hall today? It is so dynamic as to have no form at all. We need to enlist the people as politicians, since those whom would volunteer are mostly egotists and megalomaniacs seekers of power position and the seat of honor. Look to those who make themselves last and lift them up to be first for they shall serve.
Breaux of Hitchcock, TX.:
I am "just" a citizen. I have heard three general positions on the News Hour. One says we need a crisis to have a good election. Another says there are opportunities because we have no real crisis. The last seems to believe there are concerns but they are harder to pinpoint. I believe there are two serious campaign issues that will encompass many others. They are 1. Campaign reform and 2. Population control.
Ultimately campaigns should be reformed to allow all representatives to be paid a fair salary and receive no other compensation (or favors) so they can represent the people freely. Such officials should not act based upon their individual opinions. They are representatives. They should have a system in place to be able to best tell what the people want. Then they can act based upon that data only. I am ready to vote for anyone who intends such a system that, for example, is as least as accurate as the IRS's in collecting data. When I get concerned about the complexity of such a task, I remind myself, "What's the alternative? Is it better?" Only those who are free from lobbyist obligations can really represent the people.
2. Whatever problems we have are compounded by numbers. More people...more cars...more gas...more pollution...less trees...less clean air/water etc. etc. Population control does not mean mass abortions. But it could mean govt. incentives (some would say "penalties") for excessive "behavior". Whatever strains on the system are experienced today...just wait. ...
Kelly of Niantic, CT.:
Without comprehensive campaign finance reform our country declines as a Democracy. "Our" agenda is influenced by the few, of the few, and for the few. We have no honest debates. Legislation that should be in the best interest of our country as a whole does not even make out to the floor, that is, if it even makes it to committee. America, home of the free air waves.
Carrera of Edinburgh, TX.:
I am very disappointed that the Republican party still refuses to act on campaign finance reform issues. As the use of technology reaches bigger means, the country is waking up and really taking a look at the issues that the candidates choose to take on. We will never have a fair chance at reaching the necessary changes in time due to the delays that some Republicans are taking in reaching decisions that are better off for the American people instead of the best decision for their political contributors.
Osborn of California:
Campaign finance, campaign finance, campaign finance.
Roberts of Houston, TX.:
How significant will third party candidates, ie. Green Party, New Party be to election 2000? I would particularly like to see a survey done of whether or not the Democratic party has targeted efforts to draw in this disaffected sector of its membership.
Borgen of Grand Junction, Co.:
I agree with all of the points in the first night's roundtable but , to me, the most important issue facing our democracy is equating money with speech. The rapidly increasing cynicism of the public comes from realizing their elected representatives' agendas are those of the largest contributors. ALL elections at all levels should involve various government-funded nonpartisan forums- electronic, print and live- wherein candidates respond to each other and journalists and members of the public. There should be NO candidate advertising of any kind, both from the candidate as well as from supporters.
Erase the need for a candidate to waste time fund raising and become beholden to somebody other than the electorate and you'll go a long way towards greater participation in voting and public affairs in general, not to mention allowing for better candidates who may not be good at fund raising but who might have great statesman qualities. The above is simplistic to try to be brief but it could be done if we, or some candidates, have the will to tackle it. We can now approach town-meeting levels of exposition of the candidates character, background, record, beliefs and their plan for addressing the issues. We can no longer afford to have the public manipulated by Beltway consultants and Madison Ave. sound-bite advertising.
Mule of Alexandria, Va.:
"Save Social Security First"!!! Why can't we shut down government, lock Clinton, Hastert, Gephardt, Armey, Greenspan in a room, and tell them not to come out until they "really fix it....money coming in equal money going out...no 'hidden' tax hike in 2012 when the trust fund turns out to be IOUs and not really money...
Can't the Supreme Court order the Congress and President to use "Honest Accounting understandable to everyday citizens"....ie account for "present value" of "unfunded future liabilities", assign that in "individual debt accounts" so people understand what we owe.