As 2015 Closes, We're Focused On All the Wrong Things

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If somehow Star Wars could be president in 2016, that's perhaps the only way the American public might come to a consensus choice.

But, while the original film is 35 years old and it was more or less born in the United States, it's not a person, which takes the only thing most of us can actually agree we like out of the equation.

That leaves us with a sad cast of characters attempting to pander to our most awful instincts.

We're not looking for a thoughtful administrator or someone who will make tough calls without first applying ideology. We seem to be looking for someone who parrots back whatever rhetoric we've come to believe.

It's all a show -- a sort of dance between the Fox News crowd and The New York Times aficionados -- each trying to rally the base.

The end result leaves us always choosing between the lesser of two evils, with one party holding power and the other in opposition. That's a recipe for gridlock because both sides will only act when something benefits their constituents.

The U.S. government was meant to be bigger than that. Our elected leaders were supposed to act for the greater good even if it was against their own interests or cost them their jobs.

It's a sad reality that leads us into 2016, but perhaps an opportunity to examine and dismiss some of the biggest nonsense.

(And, to cut off your comments and emails, yes, I'm a horrible liberal who was probably born in Kenya and I'm a heartless conservative who believes we should arm infants because it's in the Constitution).

These aren't the only well-accepted lies in our national debate, but they are some of the biggest:

  • The Democrats are coming for your guns: One of the rallying cries of the Republican party is the notion that any attempt at gun control is a prelude to the government outlawing all guns and confiscating them. That notion is silly and near-impossible. You can get guns without a permit at flea markets and gun shows in much of the country.

    That's a problem which trumps any existing laws and we need to address it. We have a senseless tragedy involving guns nearly everyday day and the only people who think the answer is "more guns" either make them, get paid by the industry, or have been deluded into thinking that they may need to raise a militia at any moment.

  • Taxes are not the answer: One of the major pieces of Democratic rhetoric is that the rich don't pay their fair share. In some cases that may be true, but in a broader sense the rich not only pay the majority of the taxes, they also create most of the jobs. Levying more taxes on the wealthy plays well with poor voters, because who would not want to have more money without working for it? That's populism at its best, but we're not going to tax our way to prosperity.

    Yes, we need a fair tax code and a much more simple one, but we also have to eliminate the notion that taxes should be used to redistribute wealth. We need to eliminate double taxation like the estate tax, which is nothing more than government confiscation. We also need to incentivize people to create jobs, build companies, and grow opportunities. Taxes and government won't do that even if it makes for a nice campaign speech.

  • Police are neither all good or all bad: Some police, like some of every other profession are bad people. Most are good. In fact, most are better than the majority of us because they choose to do a thankless job. A small percentage of candidates are racists and a small percentage are every other negative thing you can imagine. We need to root out bad cops, but the idea that most police are somehow bad or hunting down people from a certain race is just ridiculous.
  • Companies need to pay fairly: A uniform $15 minimum wage is a bad idea that throws aside the supply and demand part of capitalism. That said, we can't have companies paying workers so little they qualify for government assistance while the company rakes in huge profits. When that happens we need to fine the companies to pay for those public benefits. If that causes the companies to pay more, great. If not, we'll have the public dollars to support working Americans.
  • Immigrants are not the problem: Hitler blamed the Jews and Donald Trump is blaming illegal immigrants. Both tactics appeal to people whose lives are not what they want and are looking for someone to blame. The Jewish people were not Germany's problem nor are illegal immigrants the issue here. Illegal immigrants are washing our dishes and cleaning our toilets. They're babysitting our kids and picking our fruit. They may take some fast food jobs, but they can't even get hired as baristas so they are simply not the problem.)
  • The following ships have sailed: Americans support the following rights and/or notions and we're wasting our time pandering to a relative few who believe their personal beliefs trump individual freedom:

  • Abortion: A woman's right to choose is clear and obvious. Religious objections are just that. They are not grounds to make laws.
  • Marijuana: It should be legal, regulated, and taxed. It's impossible to argue that alcohol is okay, but pot isn't. We simply have bigger drug issues to worry about.
  • The word God is going to be used: I'm not a fan, but it's just not a big deal that our money says "in God we trust" or that the big Santa in the sky is mentioned in the Pledge of Allegiance. It violated the separation of church and state, but it's simply not going to change.
  • Marriage is just marriage: See abortion above. Gay marriage is not an affront to straight marriage. Your church can decide who can marry whom. A just government cannot. God or religious beliefs are not grounds for government policy no matter how strongly you believe.
  • And to close:

  • All news is biased: While some is a little more intentionally biased than others (I'm looking at you FOX News) all news is filtered through the people making decisions. It's actually better when bias is made clear, but even the most well-intentioned news people have biases that color their thinking. That said, most journalists, not the talking heads or the pundits, are just trying to get to the truth.

There are more, but this is a start.

If we have any hope to be great again as Donald Trump keeps saying, we need to stop focusing on these issues and start building jobs, fixing our education system, and getting more people working on making more Star Wars stuff.