Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Smokescreens

I understand that every American is unique in the sense that we all have widely varying perspectives about what issues the government should be focusing on, but I am puzzled by how certain issues are framed to be so significant when they distract us from the bigger picture.  And the distraction is always implemented with the effect of attempting to lay blame, and not with the mindset of actually improving the quality of life.

In the past month, political issues that have dominated the national news have left me baffled for an explanation.  For instance, can anyone have imagined that forms of contraception would become a topic that would create such a stir?  This debate has created a monster where both political parties have become embroiled in an issue -- albeit an important one -- that should not be splattered on every news outlet in the country.

President Barack Obama's administration specifically had ordered insurance companies to cover multiple forms of contraception as identified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in all healthcare plans.  First, the president does have the authority to do this, via the Affordable Care Act (better known as 'Obamacare').  Was this a mistake on the president's part?  Yes -- but only in the sense that he did not initially allow exceptions to be carved out.

Reaction to the measure was immediate from social conservatives, particularly Catholic institutions who believe their religious rights were being infringed upon, by forcing them to provide a product counter to their faith.

If only they went to Bill for help!
Republicans quickly jumped to defend religious rights, claiming the president's administration violated the Constitution's First Amendment.  Right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh threw gas on the fire by insinuating taxpayers and those who paid premiums were paying for women to have sex.  (By the way, the mandate from the government covers condoms too, Rush.  You're paying for everyone to have sex.)

Liberals responded by noting that birth control pills need to be covered, as they are used not only to prevent pregnancy, but several other medical reasons.  Also, shouldn't the government do everything in its power to prevent unwanted pregnancies (which ultimately adds to the number of abortions)?

Both sides have a valid point here -- but the bigger issue is that this shouldn't be an issue.

Republicans are attempting frame President Obama and his administration as terrible perpetrators of heinous crimes against religion.  While the GOP cares about the issue, it isn't because they care about religion, it is because they care about controlling the White House and Congress in 2012.  This issue is a mere chess piece, a means to an end.

In return, the Democrats hope to paint the GOP as a party with arcane ideas about women, stuck in the 19th century and unable to see why women (and men) should have access to birth control (which most Americans have no religious objection to).

Not only have both parties spent precious time with damage control, but Congress jumped into the fray by attempting to amend a transportation bill with a rider pertaining to exemptions for religious or moral conviction for health insurance companies.  Of course, the Blunt Amendment failed in the Democrat controlled Senate, 48-51.

And what exactly are we doing about the bigger problems in the country?

Currently, Congress is hashing out the Obama administration's budget proposal for 2013, and it already appears the nation will go through the same slow, grinding near half of government that was endured when the 2012 budget was being worked out.  Entitlement programs and defense spending are crushing us, while no reform takes place.

President Obama, along with his GOP challengers, are raising and spending record amounts of money on their campaigns.  They will easily top $1 billion, not including outside spending by groups in the form of individual expenditures, Super PACs, etc.   Undue influence in elections should be frightening people.

International crises are ongoing -- in Iran, Syria, Egypt, and any number of Third World nations.  What is the United States going to do to promote our security and the overall safety of the world?  What will our society be doing to help the thousands of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?

Our economy appears to be on the mend, but what are government and businesses doing to prevent another recession?  As the economy has turned upward, so have gas prices.

How is the country going to deal with an educational policy like No Child Left Behind?  Unfunded mandate that hasn't made a tangible impact.

Pick an issue.  Any issue.  And do something positive.

Much of our Constitution and governmental ideas are based upon English philosopher John Locke, who wrote that laws should be made for no other reason than the good of the people.  What would he think of American government today?








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