By LESLEY TOTH
What do voter identification, gay marriage, “Right to Work,” contraception and illegal video streaming have in common? At the state and national levels, these issues are making front page headlines and top of the evening broadcasts from Minnesota to Florida and beyond. Another commonality is they are devices in politicians’ toolboxes used to distract voters from the pathetic job performance of our lawmakers.
When the public is arguing about Voter ID, they aren’t focused on putting the unemployed back to work. When people are snapping at each other over their ideas of matrimony, they aren’t talking about the $1 trillion in student loan debt the country is under. When the coffee shops are buzzing with conversation about the pros and cons of union participation, they aren’t talking about the war in Afghanistan. When Americans are fighting each other on who determines whether or not birth control should be covered by insurance premiums, we aren’t finding solutions to the ever-increasing costs of health care.
And when we have bills such as S.978 (sponsored by our very own Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.), that seeks to label yet another segment of American society as felons — for illegally streaming a $15 movie — we aren’t solving the problems we will face as our population ages.
With the number of weapons of mass distraction politicians in St. Paul and Washington D.C. are using, it’s no wonder why voters are becoming increasingly distrustful of government. And it’s also not surprising that we have such high voter apathy with many people not even bothering to show up on election day.
America is not on the decline — no matter what some have said. But we do have some very pressing concerns that have remained unaddressed for far too long. The only reason we haven’t overcome these obstacles is our representatives and senators haven’t done their most basic duties. Setting spending priorities and developing a budget (that doesn’t add to the national debt) is job No. 1 for those at the state and national legislatures. The only aspect “on the decline” is the achievements of our political leaders.
While they bicker about these innocuous issues, spending weeks of discussion on them, they are wasting precious time that should be spent collaborating on serious matters. And for the public — it’s like throwing popcorn to chickens. As we peck away at each other, opening wounds and scratching at the ground, we lose sight of what makes America great: Despite our numerous and deeply-rooted differences, we have always come together as one people to forge the path ahead.
We need to regain our collective sense of community and togetherness. If we want the American Dream to be available to our children and grandchildren, we need to demand of our lawmakers to set aside these petty disagreements. We will need to reinvest in the education of our youth, bring the costs of college education back in line with reality, develop a health care system that doesn’t leave millions lacking and millions more bankrupt, and find a way to care for our parents as they enter their golden years.
Our lawmakers’ failure to act on the important issues is more dangerous than all the voter fraud, gay people, unions, birth control and illegal video streaming in the country. And the only way America will be on the decline is if we let them get away with it.