No candidate truly presidential

We are still more than a year away from the presidential elections and I am already sick of the political bickering.

In my opinion, there?s not one publically declared candidate on either side that is fully qualified to hold the highest office of the land. Only two, possibly three, have demonstrated abilities that gives them the credentials to run. And I decline to mention who they are.

I state that, even though the Democrats have hardly begun campaigning, let alone having made the decision to run for office.

The Republican debates resembles an argument at recess in elementary school, gone wild. ?Tis too!? ?Tis not!? ?Too, too!? ?Not, not, not!?

Sadly, I fear for the future of our country. Neither side is willing to sit down with the other and work through the issues in a rational manner that is respectful of differing perspectives.

The most effective tool in a politician?s toolbox is fear. Wikipedia defines fear as an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events.

I hesitate to use the word ?fear? in times like these, because it has been abused and misused to manipulate and motivate other people into taking action they otherwise would not take, if they only had taken the time to research the facts for themselves.

It also suggests a naivet? by the electorate, and it may be received by readers as an insult. Sadly, it is the truth. If the shoe fits?.

During the last general election, while visiting with a voter, the justification of why a candidate was chosen was very simple: the voter didn?t know anything about the opponent, and a known quantity, albeit a poor choice at that, was preferable to an unknown candidate. And there was no attempt to understand and know the opponent?s position.

Rather than become manipulated by one candidate that uses a campaign of fear of the unknown, would it not be better if the candidates were held accountable for their performance in working toward a workable solution?

Rather than be flattered by flowery phrases and speeches denigrating their opponents, wouldn?t it be better to hear what the candidate proposes to do if elected?

Sadly, it?s an accepted practice that negative comments regarding an opponent are more effective in winning public support than any positive statements one can give about personal accomplishments.

Personally, I don?t want to hear another negative speech about yet another attempt to repeal Obama?care.

I do want to hear how a candidate will address the need for affordable health care, not only for the rich and powerful, but also for the working-class family as well as the working poor. And please, propose more reform than merely limiting malpractice settlements or rejecting the expansion of Medicaid funding.

I don?t want to hear another speech about how eliminating income taxes for big business will ultimately trickle down and result in eventual increased economic prosperity, some day.

Rather, answer this question: What would you propose for real tax reform that embodies the spirit of the American dream? How will you work to foster a climate that will give every hard-working American citizen an opportunity to capture the American dream?

Let me add another class of political candidates to this mix: potential state candidates running for state office.

How will you make our tax dollars work harder and smarter to rebuild our decaying infrastructure without resorting to unfair tax practices, such as burdening one class of business owners, like farmers and landowners laboring under higher property taxes?

How will you fix our educational system without, once again, burdening one class of business owners, like farmers and landowners?

It?s time to reject the philosophy that farmers are subsidy hogs and not paying their way.

Social issues are a thorny subjects, for sure. Gay marriage, abortion and immigration are huge minefields that a candidate must address.

How a candidate deals with this, whether he or she agrees or disagrees with the subject matter, these topics define much of a campaign?s rhetorical strategy.

Though gay marriage and abortion are subjects of great concern, from a secular perspective, they provide a candidate with the opportunity to demonstrate how one can effectively govern, even in the face of difficult situations.

Currently, immigration is a tougher issue, in that it has great implications regarding the future status of millions of illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. Mass deportation is a simple solution, but entirely impractical, illogical and foolish.

The impasse is what it is. We failed to enforce current laws on immigration and there is no political will to do so. We need a roadmap that is fair, just and equitable for the citizens of the United States and those who are here without legal status.

What is the correct solution? No candidate has even come close to a rational solution, let alone a realistic one. Yet all seem to speak with much authority about nothing.

Back to the subject of fear, I remain fearful that we, as a country of immigrant citizens, will continue to propagate a climate of fear, distrust and disrespect of others who do not share our views.

No good can come from perpetuating this. It is time to stop this cycle. We must take the first step to making peace with one another and work together to make this nation great.

Paul Penner farms in the Hillsboro area. He has been active statewide and nationally regarding agricultural legislation.

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