7 Election Issues I Care About That Aren’t Talked About

Bruce Reyes Chow is asking, as part of Patheos’ Election 2012 coverage, “What Presbyterians Should Care About” this election. Here’s my answer:

I have a particular interest in the issues we aren’t talking about this election season. I can’t be totally sure this is due to my faith rather than my penchant for debate. Either way, though, the Presidential candidates’ focus on the undecided middle-of-the-road voter has left many important issues untouched. (In fact, this post is greatly influenced by a FM League Night conversation on the topic last night.)

What I Care About That’s Not Talked About

Climate Change. A friend said last night that this is the first election cycle since 1980 during which climate change was not mentioned in the Presidential debates! It’s a social justice, creation care, and global hunger issue that requires immediate action, not denial.

Two Party Politics / Congressional Inaction. In our system the President’s power to affect much of anything is limited by congress. Gerrymandered districts, the cost of elections, and the payoff for extreme positions handcuff the system. We need politicians who play well with others. Compromise must not be not a dirty word. Friendships across the aisle must drastically increase.

Gun Violence. The current system isn’t working. Too many people die from guns. Period. Addressing the problem will take courage and working outside of NRA-sanctioned norms.

Prison Reform. Our incarceration rate affects every aspect of society. 1 in 100 Americans is in jail. 1 in 15 black adults is behind bars, as is 1 in 9 black men aged 20-34. The US represents 5% of the world’s population, but holds almost 1/4 of the world’s incarcerated persons. We must address this problem from every angle.

Health Care. The Affordable Care Act is a huge step in the right direction, but it’s only one step. Implementation of the law will take time, and if Americans keep eating and exercising as we do (or don’t), if we continue rewarding physicians as we do, the health cost curve will not bend downward. As always, it’s the poor who will be affected most.

Poverty. “The middle class,” is mentioned at every rally this year, but it’s the poor whom I really worry about. Their voice is not heard. Their stories are not told. The cycle of poverty is not being broken.

Supreme Court. Three justices will reach their 80s during the next presidential term. The current court is among the most conservative in decades. Due to lifetime tenure, the next president’s appointments will affect the country for decades.

Looking back at this list now, I do see that my commitment to every one of these issues is directly connected to my faith. Though I am prepared to argue for these issues in the language of the public square, each one is central to me because of my Christian foundation.

But, those are my issues. What are yours? Go vote!


  1. Illegal, murderous drone strikes on the border of Afghanistan/Pakistan. Close to 1 in 4 killed are innocent civilians. Obama can end all the wars he wants, but his policies are shamelessly and transparently incentivizing the next generation of anti-American militants. Maybe Obama should have listened more carefully to Jeremiah Wright.

  2. Someone just passed along this more thoughtful and more thorough list by the amazing Miroslav Volf: https://www.facebook.com/notes/miroslav-volf/values-of-a-public-faith-miroslav-volf/441054065941882 Check it out.

  3. Terri Elton says:

    Thanks for this. You have tapped into my frustration with so much of the media/campaign rhetoric. It’s not that I don’t care about things (like foreign policy), but my global concern, for example, is around meeting the needs of women and children, poverty and education and our global responsibility around abundant life. I’m not sure of my list at this point, but you have me motivated to consider it.

  4. Excellent list. I agree with the recommended addition of kill lists and drone assassinations. I might also add the death penalty (which we’re voting on here in CA).


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