Muftic: The devil is in how to fix those problems. |

Muftic: The devil is in how to fix those problems.

Felicia Muftic
Courtesy Photo |

Listening to candidates for president still left standing, those who identify the aspirations of the disaffected owe that for their top tier position in the polls. Whether that is Dr. Ben Carson or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, they inspire large groups of people who agree with their gripes about the economy, banking, jobs, US position in the world, and a corrupt political system. Identifying problems may be a political winner for now, but the devil is in how to fix those problems and candidates know coming clean with the how’s could be a loser.

Issues do matter. How can you evaluate whether the ideas are even plausible or the candidate has knowledge and judgement to make sound policy if we do not even know what their solutions are? Let us hear a substantive debate on issues instead of gotcha games.

Without a debate on the issues, simply identifying problems may be a political winner for now, but the devil is in how to fix those problems. Candidates know coming clean might turn off voting groups. That is why you see candidates relying on a remarkable personal history, an appealing personality, personal attacks, or simply ducking answers. Some propose vague concepts, or ask for friendly debate moderators to throw them softball questions. Their lure is a shiny burrito wrapper without the tortilla, beans, rice, and salsa.

Jeb Bush believes voters want more than raging against problems and he has embraced the “fix it” slogan, drawing on position papers and a record in government. His problem is making the fixes sound as sexy and acceptable as the anger mongers’ rages. Hillary Clinton more and more reveals her fixes, too.

I confess I like to play fantasy debate moderator so here are some questions I could ask that would force a debate on issues.

I would aks those who advocate repealing Obamacare what they would do about the millions who can afford health insurance for the first time. Let them go bankrupt or throw themselves onto the mercy of charity care again? Many promise they would come up with a better plan, but do not offer one. Some propose sketchy ideas, but they fail to tell us how much their proposal would cost or how many their plan would cover. If the freedom from federal government control is their goal, and states can do it better, what makes them think states have the will or means to provide anything comparable to the coverage of Obamacare? Or will they rely on a no strings attached gift from the feds and no standards with which to comply?

Those who advocate a militaristic, interventionist foreign policy to bring the US to its greatness again need to tell us how we are to accomplish that without large numbers of boots on the ground or a repeat of failed strategies.

Those who want to boot a sluggish economy, while opposing government infrastructure and education funding or want to change the tax structure, need to tell us how taking away such perks and stimulus would help the middle class. From those who propose to make higher education free or to bring more income equality, I would ask them how we pay for it.

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