Major Concerns of the Candidates in the 2004 Election

[1] In our upcoming elections, these are three broad commitments that I would like all candidates to make.

[2] Let’s talk about real issues: restoring a politics of substance
Politics within our present context has been debased. Real policy alternatives are often not discussed or debated. It sometimes seems that “image” is almost everything. Candidates need to be part of a process of rebuilding politics in the United States, generating spirited debate over the policy choices we face on a range of critical issues and building public support for action.

[3] We’re all in this boat together: rebuilding a sense of “shared public values”
I believe our nation is more polarized that at any time since the war in Viet Nam. The words and actions of candidates can further this polarization or counteract it by emphasizing the values we have in common rather than what divides us.

[4] Leave a legacy for our grandchildren: accepting responsibility for the future impact of today’s policy choices
Candidates need to address how the policies they advocate on taxation, government spending, environmental policy, education, arms control and other issues will contribute to the health and well-being of future generations, not only in the United States but around the world. Short-term gains for some can sometimes have negative long-term consequences for many.

[5] There are several more specific concerns that I hope candidates would address:

[6] Public education in this nation is losing ground in the great majority of our communities from the elementary to the university level. What new, innovative ways do candidates see to fund public education and give critical federal support for the states’ role in education?

[7] Health care should be a basic human right and available to all. How do the candidates envision a health care system that operates on the basis of this right?

[8] How do candidates propose to better protect our air and water, save natural habitats, reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, and develop alternative sources of energy?

[9] As the number of people living in poverty has grown in this nation and globally in recent years, the assets of the wealthy have expanded greatly. This is a moral failing, a waste of our human resources and a threat to democracy. What economic reforms, domestically and internationally, will candidates advocate to begin to redress this imbalance?

[10] Global cooperation is needed in order to address the issues of poverty, disease (including AIDS), and environmental degradation as well as multiple other threats to security – terrorism, the ongoing nuclear danger, and the reality of regional and intra-national conflicts. Do candidates recognize the degree to which our own nation’s future is interdependent with the future of others on this planet? What steps would they propose to enhance global cooperation to improve the health, security and overall well being of this planet and its peoples?