Kennedy: Issues left unaddressed in election

Sean Kennedy

With Election Day fast approaching and the presidential campaigns largely done crafting and promoting their respective stances on policy, it seems like an appropriate time to talk about what we missed out on during the election season. Both main campaigns said a lot, probably more than most of us wanted to know, but what didn’t they say? For as much as this election has been awful because of the rise of Donald Trump, it has been equally awful because the campaign against Hillary Clinton was poorly run and failed to challenge her on any matters of policy or actual substance. As a result, voters sadly never learned in-depth about the candidates’ positions on a number of key issues (or whether they’ll do anything to address them at all). The following are some of the most important issues overlooked during this year’s election.

Race Relations

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Arguably the most visible social issue of the past year, race relations have also not been specifically addressed in this election. Because Donald Trump adopted a position of such blatant xenophobia from the onset, Hillary was able to distance herself simply by not being overtly racist, and no one has really pressed her on the issue since. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump has no mention of racial justice on his website. Hillary Clinton does detail some specific policies she would adopt and/ or advocate for to advance the cause of racial equality on her site, but these words are overshadowed by her lack of action for the cause on the campaign trail.

The silence from both campaigns (and political parties, frankly) on matters like the Black Lives Matter movement and the class warfare being waged in North Dakota to force the Dakota Access Pipeline through says more than any political ad or speech ever could. Donald Trump clearly has no intention to elevate the status of minorities in our society. When Black Lives Matter activist attempted (unsuccessfully) to speak at her rallies, Hillary Clinton demonstrated her lack of intention as well.

It’s embarrassing that we still have the same problems we were facing 40 years ago being minimized and ignored by the same bigoted institutions of power, and neither candidate has shown an interest in doing anything to break the cycle.

Mass Surveillance

One of the most controversial topics of public interest as recently as a year ago, we have heard nothing about cybersecurity outside of Hillary’s email fiasco. Outside of the ridiculous Red Scare among Democrats that came after a massive hacking operation on the DNC, neither candidate or their respective parties seemed to concern themselves with creating a detailed plan for cybersecurity or surveillance. This was surprising to me because of how unpopular mass surveillance has become with Americans. You would think that either party would have sought to gain political leverage by taking a stand in this area. Instead, neither major candidate has bothered to even mention the issue. Online, Donald Trump offers an idea of creating joint task forces to foster coordination among local, state, and federal responders to cyber threats, while Hillary Clinton has no direct mention of the issue at all on her website.

Campaign Finance

We’ve heard a good deal about campaign finance this election—unfortunately, not from the candidates themselves. Instead we’ve heard about how Hillary Clinton used massive donations from big business groups and a little help (read: electioneering) from the Democratic National Committee to ward off Bernie Sanders and his historic amount of support from small, everyday donors in the primaries.

Campaign finance reform was never largely discussed in the debates, and was never a big theme on the campaign trail, either. Donald Trump has been silent on the issue, which is surprising from a tactical standpoint, while Hillary Clinton has promised to overturn the infamous Citizens United decision and pass legislation banning dark money from politics. However, based on the shady circumstances surrounding Clinton’s victory in the primaries and her well-documented ties to Wall Street, can we trust that she really intends on tackling this issue? I personally cannot.

Global Warming

Global warming is an issue that affects all of us whether we choose to believe in it or not. Liberals care about it, conservatives should care about it, but on the campaign trail, no one has seemed to care about it. Despite global temperatures continuing to set record highs now on an annual basis and drought ravaging the Southwest, neither candidate has been pressed on climate change. Hillary has a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change, Donald Trump thinks it’s a Chinese hoax, and neither has been questioned further about the effectiveness and implications of their respective energy policies.

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Primary Education

Finally, despite our children’s’ test scores ranking further behind other industrialized nations around the world and our schools nationwide being hundreds of thousands of teachers understaffed, primary education was also not significantly addressed during this election. It wasn’t mentioned in debates after Bernie Sanders dropped out, and it didn’t seem to be much of a concern on the campaign trail, either. Neither major candidate has gone into much detail on their own policy; Donald Trump has nothing beyond allocating $20 billion in federal education money towards school choice programs, and the only policy Hillary Clinton has offered beyond feel-good rhetoric is a plan to allocate a portion of federal education money to funding computer science instruction in schools.

Collegian Assistant Opinion Editor and Columnist Sean Kennedy can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @seanskenn.