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The Democratic Presidential Candidates Need to Broaden Their Horizons

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From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

A recurring theme in this column is debunking false accusations made against the president of the United States. Longtime readers will remember my defense of Barack Obama when he held that office. Some of my very early articles date back to the younger Bush; now, they focus on Donald Trump.

Granted, of the countless accusations hurled against Trump that are presented as fact, some of them are actually accurate (many, if not most, are not). But for the sake of argument – and only for that sake – let’s assume in this week’s column only, that all of them are true. That he really did describe Mexicans as “rapists” and “thugs.” That he did make fun of a reporter’s physical disability. That he did tell four Congresswomen to go back to the countries from which they came. That he did collude with Russia to win the 2016 election, and is now trying to collude with Ukraine – and even China – to help him get reelected in 2020. Let’s take our Trump derangement – oops, sorry, ‘analysis’ – a step further and conclude that he is morally and mentally unfit to be president, and that the best way to save our nation is either to impeach and convict him or to invoke the 25th Amendment and oust him from the White House now, because he’s just plain bonkers. Bad Trump. Bad, bad Trump. Fine, we got it.

Among so many others touting that message are a very large handful of Democratic presidential hopefuls, twelve of whom gathered for yet another debate on October 15. In the largest major party primary debate ever, the individual members of the Democrat Dodecad barely had enough time to yell out their website address and diligently balanced their time between looking for their breakout punchline and bashing the sitting president. If these twelve are really serious about winning next November, would it not behoove them to broaden their horizons and reach out to the 60 million or so Republican voters, a good chunk of whom may be on the fence this time around?

Watching that debate confirmed the partisan and ideological dichotomy plaguing our nation. The Democratic version of that bubble focuses on an array of familiar themes: meeting with a single mom who can’t afford medical checkups for herself and her children…a Guatemalan PHI (Person Here Illegally) who graduated valedictorian of her high school class and now faces the risk of deportation…farmers going broke because they can’t sell their surplus of soybeans due to Trump’s tariffs (Democrats don’t do too well with farmers, but, hey, Iowa’s the first primary contest)…the melting polar ice cap that will cause major U.S. cities to be plunged underwater by 2040…a two-income family on the campaign trail – a teacher and a truck driver – having to skip dinner twice a week in order to pay the electric bill…and so on.

While these issues certainly merit consideration, why is it that all Democrats seem to care about is the impoverished, the unhealthy, and the disenfranchised? Is that all that American government is supposed to be – lending a helping hand to the neediest? What about all of the other issues tens of millions of Americans care about just as much, and in many cases, more so?

Democrat, Republican, and independent voters would all be better off if the Democratic candidates were asked the following questions at the next few debates and by reporters while on the campaign stump:

  1. Our immigration system needs fixing in many areas, but let’s address illegal entry and stay, specifically. How important is it to you to secure our nation’s borders, tighten monitoring of legal nonimmigrants so that they do not overstay their allotted time, place heavy sanctions on employers who hire PHIs, and enforce the existing federal law that it is a crime to enable a PHIs continued illegal status in any way?
  2. The United States is the world’s foremost – and arguably the only remaining – superpower in terms of its combined economic, military, and political prowess. Americans generally believe that while we should not use our superior might to bully the world, we should certainly not allow ourselves to be pushed around, either. What would you do, as president, to ensure that politically, economically, and militarily, the United States throws its weight around on the world stage as an active force for good?
  3. You obviously believe that your political ideologies and policy positions are the most correct and beneficial. Yet, even though the country remains roughly divided in half in terms of its political/ideological leanings, three of the most influential factors in Americans’ lives – teachers, the media, and movies/television – remain overwhelmingly Democrat/liberal/progressive. Even though you disagree philosophically with the Republican/conservative platform, in the interest of fairness, what would you do to ensure that it is more justly and equally represented in schools, in the press, and in our films and television shows?
  4. As a follow-up, Americans’ faith in the media continues to deteriorate, as reflected in poll after poll. The press seems to be increasingly biased and agenda-driven, whereas its news stories should be neutral and objective, and any bias should appear only on its opinion pages. As president, what would you do to help reestablish Americans’ trust in the media?
  5. Despite all of the positive statistics about falling crime and cities being safe, there remain many communities and neighborhoods in the United States that are dangerous and deadly. There is simply no excuse for that in the 21st century anywhere, and particularly in the world’s foremost superpower. What would you do as president to create a mindset of zero tolerance on crime, where communities and law enforcement work together to eradicate it from our streets?
  6. Our political discourse in America gets uglier and uglier. There was a time not too long ago when Americans argued politics in a good-natured almost half-joking manner, much like sports fans of opposing teams do. Nowadays, however, people who support a particular candidate – regardless of political affiliation of party – are treated by others as a hateful pariah, a horrible human being deserving condemnation. Whatever happened to the days when Republican Ronald Reagan and Democrat Tip O’Neill would fight it out politically during the day then go out for a beer as friends in the evening? What would you do as president to bring America back to that mindset?
  7. The United States consistently has been the world’s innovator: from telephones, to automobiles, to airplanes, to putting a man on the moon. If a national effort to establish a coast-to-coast state-of-the-art high-speed rail system was implemented, Americans could travel between major cities within an hour or two. Conceivably, a person living in Cleveland could commute to New York City for work every day. High-speed trains could also replace many cars and trucks, thus doing a lot of good for the environment. As president, would you make a true, deep, national commitment to high-speed rail?
These are all questions that Democratic presidential candidates are almost never asked, and almost never discuss. And whether or not Donald Trump is president, or even exists, has nothing to do with it. It’s time Democrats broaden their horizons and bring these issues to the forefront of the presidential race.