After the 2020 campaign is finished, the next president will have to face huge, real problems in order to get the American ship of state back on course. It won't be easy. Hopefully, the winning candidate will have the wisdom, skill, ideas and advisers to do what needs to be done.
Honest people have to admit that our country is in a mess. Usually, the first year of a new administration is crucial; this time, it probably will take the first two years to get the most important things done. If we are going to get America moving again, these – in my view – are some of the real issues the next president and Congress must resolve.
First and foremost we have to get rid of the coronavirus which is plaguing our country and the world. America needs more testing and individuals need to take proper precautions to help prevent the spread of the disease. Next, we need a vaccine that is safe, effective and taken by everyone. Then, we need leaders who tell us the truth based on science and the facts. After that, we need affordable, comprehensive health insurance for all people, which is what every other developed nation has.
Second, we have to get our nation's children back to school. Returning kids to their schools requires a lot of new safety measures which cost money. We won't have the funds to do that if we keep cutting taxes on the rich and big corporations. We won't have the money for schools if we spend more on the military. President Trump pressured the European nations into spending more on their defense; but, Trump's budgets still increases U.S. military spending. Public education is one of the keys to our nation's strength. Every child in America, no matter their race, ethnicity, religion or where they live, deserves a quality education. A college education should also be available and affordable to all who want it. If we believe in equality of opportunity, education is the most important factor.
Third, we need to deal with economic and social inequality. America is becoming a have and have-not nation, with incomes and wealth moving upward to the top 10% of our population. If most of the economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy families and big corporations they will also have most of the political power. America is becoming an oligarchy or a plutocracy – a government of, by and for the wealthy few – not a democracy. Economic inequality can be alleviated by government action on taxes, the minimum wage and benefits, Social Security, etc., and also action on tax and antitrust laws to control the giant corporations. This is necessary to promote competition and prevent monopoly power.
Fourth, we need a better criminal justice system, one that works for everybody and enables the police to truly protect and serve. We can't have one system of justice for the rich and powerful and another system of justice for everybody else. Today, America has about 2.3 million people in jails and prisons; we have 5% of the world's population and 20% of the world's prisoners. How many of these people are in jail for victimless crimes? We should create alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders. Since most people who are sent to prison eventually are released, how many of them are being rehabilitated and able to find useful work? Private, for-profit prisons are not the answer. The more people sent to prison, the more money these companies make.
Fifth, we need to rebuild our nation's crumbling infrastructure – our roads, bridges, dams, tunnels, reservoirs, sewer and waste treatment facilities, public transportation and so forth. President Trump promised to do it, but he failed to deliver on his promise. Rebuilding our infrastructure will provide thousands of new, good-paying jobs for American workers.
Sixth, Congress must enact political reforms to get unlimited, secret, special-interest money out of politics. Two terrible Supreme Court decisions holding that money is speech and a corporation is a person must be overturned. These reforms are necessary to keep America democratic and free.
Other important things need to be done to restore America as that “shining city on a hill” for other countries to emulate. We need to cooperate with other nations in combating global warming/climate change, which is having disastrous effects worldwide: droughts, flooding in coastal areas and on islands, as well as the rapid melting of the polar ice caps.
Last, but not least, we need to keep our country out of unnecessary foreign wars. President Obama did and, so far, President Trump has, too. Will the next president be the leader we need? Will we insist on action to deal with these problems?