What are the Forgotten Issues in this Election?

 
 

[1] I asked students in a course I teach that is required of all students at Lenoir-Rhyne College about the major election issues. Their responses were fairly uniform: the economy (and unemployment), the war, and education. Interestingly the African American students and the Hispanic students have similar concerns, but they were stated somewhat differently. These students said, "poverty and unemployment, the war, access to education, and crime." Using their responses I'll suggest that the forgotten issues are unemployment (I could say the same things about healthcare and education), crime, and the Patriot Act.

Unemployment and the Economy
[2] The measure of a just and free society is how it cares for those least able to care for themselves. Talk about revitalizing and boosting the economy is all fine and good. More important, in my view, is how those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder are faring. Are they employed? Underemployed? Do they earn enough to provide healthcare, shelter, and food for the day? It's not enough to say that the poor should work harder. Many do work hard. It seems reasonable to me that if somebody works a full day at a job (especially if that job contributes to the common good in some way) it should provide enough income for them to provide for themselves and their families. Our candidates need to think and talk about how the least among us are faring. The economy is about much more than efficiency and productivity. It is a means to an end. That end is to provide for all those who dwell in the nation's household, its oikos.

Crime
[3] There is a domestic war of sorts as well. The statistics are staggering and mind-boggling. Too many African American men and other people of color are in prisons. America needs to map a route to peace within its borders as well as overseas. Too many Americans live in fear of their neighbors in the homes next to them. 

Patriot Act
[4] Clearly in a world threatened by terror, a government which seeks to protect the rights of citizens needs to have tools at its disposal to combat those who would threaten the rights of those citizens. At the same time, removing the rights of those citizens in order to protect them seems contradictory. There ought to be careful reflection on the Patriot Act and other similar legislation.

A Final Thought
[5] As a Lutheran I believe that a good government serves the purposes of God's reign of mercy, compassion, salvation, justice, and peace. The above concerns are those areas of life which seem most threatened by the powers opposed to God's will for the world.

 
 
© October 2004
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 4, Issue 10