The mid-term elections are less than a week away and many have already voted. As in the past, many will not even bother, the average turnout for midterm elections being about 40% of those eligible to vote and approximately 60% for presidential elections. These participation rates are significantly below those for other developed economies. This in itself is a problem although the larger one may be the failure by many voters to take the time to try to understand the issues.

The nation faces many problems , not all of which will be much affected by the election results, but there’s always hope. Many surveys have attempted to prioritize the issues on the minds of prospective voters and, for what they’re worth, here are mine.

The first priority, in my view, should be rebuilding our declining military capacity. Few will put this issue high on their list, but in terms of national security, they should. The president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and this is not a presidential election but Congress controls the purse strings and is responsible for funding, equipping and maintaining the armed forces. We are clearly not prepared to fight a war on multiple fronts that may be forced upon us or to deter one and we are running out of time. We may already have because we lack the military and industrial infrastructure to mobilize to the degree necessary in time to deter China from invading Taiwan.

Second, the service on a total federal debt of $31T and growing will soon become the largest budget line item, leaving little remaining for discretionary spending including defense. Rising interest rates will make matters worse. Obviously, this adds to the problem of rebuilding the military. This problem is not widely recognized by the public and will not be a top priority on many lists, either. It should be.

Third, the National Assessment of Educational Progress found a record decrease in math and reading proficiency for fourth and eighth graders since the last test in 2019. Nationwide, only 33% of fourth graders and 31% of eighth graders read at or above grade level. Additionally, the average ACT score for high school seniors dropped significantly. While this is bad news for the nation as a whole, it is particularly bad for military recruitment. As it is, fewer than half of Americans of service age qualify for military service.

Fourth, the southern border is out of control resulting in widespread human and drug trafficking. The Biden Administration seems clueless regarding how to regain control. This is a major concern, not only to voters residing in the border states, but also to those in every state where illegal immigrants are being sent.

Fifth is crime and violence. This will be first or second on many lists. The rise in crime is a direct result of the breakdown in parenting and the misguided efforts to defund and repurpose police departments. It will be resolved only by restoring respect for the law and for those charged with enforcing it and returning to colorblind policies that actually worked to reduce crime.

Sixth is weakness in the White House. Mental lapses usually associated with advanced age have become too frequent and potentially serious to be politely ignored or explained away by unelected staffers. While people age differently, President Joe Biden is too old to consider taking on the most powerful and difficult job in the world for an additional four more years starting in 2025. For that matter, so is former president Donald Trump, although his problems go far beyond just ageing. Both would do the nation a favor by declining to run in 2024.

Seventh is inflation which would rank near or at the top of most lists and surveys. However, we have survived periods of inflation, recessions and even depressions before. They cause pain and suffering but the consequences of failing to deter a war would be far worse.

Eighth is the war on fossil fuels This is probably the most futile act of self-sacrifice in the history of our nation. It is futile because U.S. efforts to go even totally green will have negligible effect in reducing harmful global emissions as long as China, India and the developing nations burn coal and oil which they must do for decades to come in order to survive. After decades of dependency on Middle Eastern oil, we have finally become the world’s largest producer of energy, especially clean natural gas which has done more for air quality and to reduce harmful emissions than all the world’s windmills and solar panels. We could do much more to alleviate the shortages of fuel and fertilizer derived from natural gas and lower fuel and gasoline prices if we had invested sufficiently in needed pipelines, export terminals and other facilities. Thanks to the Biden Administration, Democrat governors and the climate warriors, we didn’t. Now we have the spectacle of the President of the United States, the nation with the world’s largest supply of natural gas, pleading with Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to produce more oil to lower prices or at least delay planned reductions in production until after the election.

Ninth is the abortion issue which will be a single issue determining the votes of many prospective voters. In my view, the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade correctly ended the constitutional protection of abortion and returned the matter to the individual states.

Tenth is election integrity. The Constitution gives the individual states the responsibility for determining rules for the conduct of elections. Candidates who will not accept election results in the absence of proof of fraud undermine election integrity and do not deserve your vote.

Whatever your reason for how or for whom you vote, take the effort to understand the issues instead of just voting in accordance with party preferences.

VOL. 112, NO. 44 - Nov. 2, 2022

(2) comments

jim orourke

Well done. However, how can the military be rebuilt without accelerating the debt and cost of debt service. Where will we cut the overall budget? I believe the military and its many sponsors in Congress and "K" Street have produced a military budgetary system founded upon over-runs, obsolescence, fraud, waste and abuse, and outright corruption. Cut some of that plush retirement pay and 100% retiree healthcare coverage too. So many retirees create civilian jobs for themselves or find one and then essentially double dip. I bet that there is 10-15% waiting to be saved now.

The focus on military is understandable but a robust military astride a decaying political system and disturbing fracturing of American society reminds me of many corrupt regimes and juntas the world over.

jrainey82

"Plush retirement pay?" Currently less than one third of one percent of the US population serve in the military and the solution to low recruitment is more benefit cuts? Sorry, there are much more meaningful, substantive and just ways to balance the budget than the miniscule amount you are proposing saving on the backs of those who have served their country honorably and faithfully for a career.

Perhaps the military budget could be lessened if every weapons system didn't have to be partially manufactured in almost all of the 435 Congressional districts. The vast majority of the Nation's spending is on entitlements, and, unfortunately, no politician in our lifetimes will ever have the courage to address or reform that aspect of government spending.

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