So, it?s November, and we all know what that means. Yes, the Christ?mas decorations are going up in store windows, but that was already happening in October. What I am talking about is the increased intensity of the 2016 presidential campaign. Whoopee. I can?t wait.
I am both intrigued and frightened by the rise in popularity of ?The Donald.? I keep waiting for this ultraconservative, runaway train to derail, and we are starting to see signs that it might.
Hilary Clinton is still the presumed choice of the Democrats, though many on that side aren?t expressing their unbridled enthusiasm, either. Bernie Sanders is making a move, but as long as he insists on using the ?S? word, socialism, I don?t see how he has a chance.
The political parties are intent on dividing the electorate, to demonstrate differences among the candidates. I contend, however, even the two most widely separated hopefuls have at some comments in common.
On the gap between the wealthy and the rest, one of the would-be presidents proclaims: ?Today, nearly 40 percent of black teenagers are unemployed. Nearly 30 percent of Hispanic teenagers are unemployed. For black Americans without high school diplomas, the bottom has fallen out: more than 70 percent were employed in 1960, compared to less than 40 percent in 2000.
?Across the economy, the percentage of adults in the labor force has collapsed to a level not experienced in generations. As CBS news wrote in a piece titled ?America?s incredible shrinking middle class?: ?If the middle-class is the economic backbone of America, then the country is developing osteoporosis.??
This candidate?s counterpart writes: ?Most black and Latino households have less than $350 in savings. The black unemployment rate has remained roughly twice as high as the white rate over the last 40 years, regardless of education. Real African American youth unemployment is over 50 percent.
?This is unacceptable. The American people in general want change?they want a better deal?. They want an America with laws and policies that truly reward hard work with economic mobility. They want an America that affords all of its citizens with the economic security to take risks and the opportunity to realize their full potential.?
Can you tell them apart? The first is from Trump. The second is from Sanders.
On tax relief, this is the solution from one candidate, who would demand that ?the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes.? As president, he ?will stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. He will create a progressive estate tax?. (and) enact a tax on Wall Street speculators who caused millions of Ameri?cans to lose their jobs, homes and life savings.?
The other presidential hopeful would reduce or eliminate corporate loopholes ?that cater to special interests, as well as deductions made unnecessary or redundant by the new lower tax rate on corporations and business income. (He) will also phase in a reasonable cap on the deductibility of business interest expenses.?
This time, it was Sanders first, then Trump.
What about immigration reform? We would expect big differences there, right?
One candidate writes, ?Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.?
On the other side of the political fence, a presidential hopeful writes that America must ?sign comprehensive immigration reform into law to bring over 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows. Undocu?men?ted workers come to the United States to escape economic hardship and political persecution. Unfortunately, American policy in Latin America has too often made difficult economic and political problems even worse.?
In this case, the first quote is from Trump; the second is from Sanders.
Finally, we might wonder how these two candidates feel about the treatment of veterans.
One writes: ?Politicians in Washington have tried to fix the VA by holding hearings and blindly throwing money at the problem. None of it has worked. In fact, wait times were 50 percent higher this summer than they were a year ago. That?s because the VA lacks the right leadership and management. It?s time we stop trusting Washington politicians to fix the problems and empower our veterans to vote with their feet.?
The other pens the following: ?While serious people can have legitimate differences about when our country should go to war, there should never be a debate whether we fulfill the promises made to the men and women who served this country in the military. As a nation, we have a moral obligation to provide the best quality care to those who have put their lives on the line to defend us.?
A Trump quote is the former, and a Sanders quote is the latter.
Granted, there are many differences between the two ends of the political spectrum. However, there is also what appears to be some basic agreement, even as each politician wants voters to believe he or she offers the only clear solutions.
Most of the electorate will likely also agree it is going to be a long, long year.
Bob Woelk teaches English and journalism at Hillsboro Middle High School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.