Martin J. Fischer: Politics and principles
The political landscape has become more intriguing. There are three factors of particular importance with respect to the 2016 presidential race — the candidates, the issues and the responsibility of voters.
Upon reviewing the interesting array of candidates on the Republican side, the bombastic Donald Trump’s popularity appears to be stable, however, his ability to maintain his lead is worth observing in the weeks ahead. Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have gained ground, and Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are making strides. I believe the visibility and impact of the other Republican candidates is minimal.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton continues to be the frontrunner, although her poll numbers already appear to be decided. Bernie Sanders has proven to be an unexpected challenge to the Clinton campaign. The most interesting aspect of the Democratic race at this point is the highly anticipated decision by Vice President Joe Biden as to whether he’s going to run. The possibility exists the Democrats could have a three-way battle for the nomination.
The majority of candidates are funded by millionaires and billionaires with limitless amounts of money flowing into campaigns as a result of the questionable Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. The degree of influence major donors have on elected officials continues to be debated. It should be noted there are two exceptions to the customary reliance on contributions by the wealthy. Donald Trump is funding his own campaign, and Bernie Sanders relies on small donations from his diversified supporters around the country.
Americans are frustrated with many aspects of government and they are particularly dissatisfied with the lack of productivity emanating from Congress. It would be beneficial for all the presidential candidates to enter into serious discussion and offer their solutions regarding the concerns the American people have on important issues facing our country.
Shrinking middle class
99 percent of all new income today goes to the wealthiest 1 percent
Lower wage earners find it increasingly difficult to maintain households
Decline of capable, qualified teachers
Higher educational standards exist in other countries
College affordability, including high interest rates on student loans
Cost of drugs and exorbitant hospital charges
Quality of care
High insurance premiums
Consideration of single-payer system that would expand Medicare to cover people of all ages
Sensitivity to veterans health needs
Maintenance of highways and replacement of deteriorating bridges
Need for modernization of railway system
Need to lower carbon emissions
Increasing severity of storms
Melting arctic glaciers
Other areas of concern include immigration, foreign policy and gun safety and control. A number of important issues are invariably ignored by candidates.
It’s imperative voters have an understanding of their reasonability. Many individuals tend to have limited knowledge of the candidates and are uninformed regarding the issues. I would encourage voters to familiarize themselves with the candidates and their positions and then consider someone who they feel will not only endeavor to enhance the quality of our lives, but will have the ability to bring Republicans and Democrats to the table to negotiate and compromise for the good and welfare of our country.
Martin J. Fischer, retired vice president of Saks Fifth Avenue, taught business management at UCLA.