Young Voters: Policy, Not Politics
by John Corker | Wright State University
I am deeply engaged in this year’s presidential election. It is the most important election of our generation. I hope I do not need to list for anyone the litany of crises with which our great nation is currently faced. Suffice it to say, America is worse off in nearly every major domestic area (unemployment, debt, education, health outcomes, energy prices and availability, etc.) than we were four, eight, or even twelve years ago.
And in the midst of all that, I am disgusted with the politics involved with it all. I am three months into a health policy fellowship in Washington D.C., where I live, work and breathe policy every day. I’ve learned about the process of policy-making, from conception to inception, and I’ve never believed more strongly in the power of good policy to affect millions of people’s lives in meaningful ways.
Unfortunately, the politics (and politicians) that populate the governing bodies of this city are our biggest obstacles to creating good, effective policies. Partisan politics — and the bickering, in-fighting, empty rhetoric, and wasted resources that go along with them — are the bane of this country’s existence, and are leading us over a cliff of destruction. In his farewell address more than two hundred years ago, our founding father and first president, George Washington, tried to warn us:
“I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State… Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally… It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy… It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection… A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”
Sound familiar? He was right. We didn’t listen. And now nearly every politician who identifies with a political party uses his or her empty politics not to make this country better, but rather to kick our troublesome cans further down the road to national futility, all in the interest of keeping their jobs.
You see, our system of government was constructed so that farmers, post-men, police-men, doctors and laborers could take a few years off, serve their country, and then return to their livelihoods. They already had other jobs. And under this system, elected officials were focused solely on doing the best job possible during their limited time in office, free from many of today’s perverse incentives and outside interests. The term “career politician” would have elicited very confused looks from our founding fathers. It wouldn’t have made any sense back then, and it shouldn’t make any now.
It’s time to do away with all of these divisive, destructive politics, and begin to work together to create the kind of good, effective policy that this country so desperately needs.
I will most certainly be voting on November 6. The privilege of voting — and the responsibility to do so in an informed fashion — is the most sacred civic pact we citizens have with the future of our nation. I will not, however, be volunteering for any political campaigns for reasons I hope are clear from my comments above.
While I have decided for whom I will vote in all other races in the “Big Kahuna” state of Ohio, I remain undecided as to whom I will vote for in this year’s presidential election. To put it simply, after months of personal research and reflection (as a replacement for empty campaign rhetoric), I find myself torn between the values I espouse as a student of Catholic Social Teaching and the difficult economic realities currently faced by our country. I will have it figured out by election day.
1. Health Care: We cannot heal our economy until we first control health care costs. In addition, a healthy country is a productive country. Over the next four years, we must not only control health care costs, but we must simultaneously train more doctors and insure more people so that America is more healthy, more of the time.
2. Job Creation: Over the next four years, we must lower taxes on small businesses. We need them to hire people.
3. Energy Policy: Over the next four years, we must make greater use of our massive domestic energy resources in order to move further towards energy independence. This is of vital importance not only to domestic productivity, but to national security.
4. Women’s Health: It is vitally important that we do everything in our power to provide affordable and comprehensive health care for the women of this country. In doing so, however, we must come to a point as a nation where we do not confuse commitment to this important issue with support for unlimited abortion rights or free contraception. What’s more, we must come to this point without infringing upon the first amendment religious freedoms of any of our citizens.
While I don’t currently study on a campus, I can tell you that the environment in Washington D.C. (and among my friends) is enlivened and impassioned. November 6 — and the days following — will be an event to behold.John Corker is the NextGen Journal Health Care Correspondent and a third-year student at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. He is a 2007 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a host of the 'Radio Rounds' medical talk show (www.radiorounds.org).