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Issues the Two Major Party Presidential Candidates Refuse to Discuss

(Flickr Photo by Jared Rodriguez /

The liberal think tank Center for American Progress has a posting on their blog Think Progress which highlights ten “huge issues” that are being ignored in the presidential campaign. Each of these issues are definitely significant or have profound implications and they do deserve much, much more attention. It is certainly to be commended that ThinkProgress published such a list. However, for some of the issues it is factually untrue that they are not being discussed during the 2012 presidential campaign because there are other candidates that ThinkProgress overlooks who are raising some of these issues.

The ten issues highlighted are: mass incarceration and the drug war, the housing market, the India/Pakistan conflict, overfishing, global disease and malnutrition, internet privacy, America’s security state and shadow wars, factory farming, civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and segregation by race and class in education.

Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, has been highlighting issues with the housing market. She even has proposals for what she would do as president:

  • Impose an immediate moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.
  • Offer capital grants to non-profit developers of affordable housing until all people can obtain decent housing at no more than 25% of their income.
  • Create a federal bank with local branches to take over homes with distressed mortgages, and either restructure the mortgages to affordable levels, or if the occupants cannot afford a mortgage, rent homes to the occupants.
  • Expand rental and home ownership assistance and create ample public housing.

Stein also has been highlighting issues of internet privacy. She opposes the “Online Piracy Act and all other legislation that would undermine freedom and equality on the Internet.” She has highlighted mass incarceration and the war on drugs and thinks the US should stop dumping resources into the prison-industrial complex, should eliminate laws with mandatory sentencing requirements, legalize medical use of marijuana and permit legal sales of marijuana under a regulatory framework and end the War on Drugs and begin treating drug use as a public health issue. And on the security state and shadow wars, she supports a ban on drones used for assassination, bombings, etc, the closure of 140 US military bases abroad, the demilitarization of US foreign policy, the repeal of provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that give the military the power to hold people indefinitely without charge and the repeal of the Patriot Act.

Rocky Anderson, a Justice Party presidential candidate, supports an end to the War on Drugs, “putting cartels out of business and treating drug use as a public health issue.” He opposes “expanded government surveillance and no accountability for felonious spying on US citizens.” He also happens to want to restrict the government’s use of the state secrets privilege to “deprive people of evidence” and the “right to challenge abuses of executive power in the courts.” And Anderson also supports a repeal of the PATRIOT Act and opposes the indefinite detention powers enshrined in the NDAA.

Anderson supports the legalization of industrial hemp.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to intentionally confound industrial hemp and marijuana. This has resulted in an absurd policy: hemp seed, oil and fiber are all currently legal for trade in the U.S., and domestic industry imports industrial hemp for diverse uses. Yet, at the same time, U.S. farmers are prevented from producing industrial hemp for the domestic market. It is time to remove unnecessary barriers to the domestic production of legal industrial hemp.

When it comes to shadow wars, Anderson opposes militarism and empire-building. He asserts he would never lead the US into an illegal war of aggression if he were president. And he has a history of standing against the privatization of prisons, which only fuels the problem of mass incarceration.

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson has proposals for drug policy reform. He supports marijuana legalization. Part of that support stems from the fact that “over a million and a half Americans were arrested last year on drug charges and nearly 40% of those arrests were for marijuana possession alone.” He believes in order to get serious about reducing harms associated with drugs, people have to accept society will never be entirely drug-free.

Johnson calls for an end to the assault on privacy rights, including the repeal of the PATRIOT Act. He believes the government should either charge all incarcerated individuals with crimes or release them. Habeas corpus should be respected. Not even prisoners at Guantanamo Bay should be subject to indefinite detention without trial. He also thinks the deployment of American troops throughout Europe should be “reevaluated.”

These candidates are making campaign stops and doing interviews just like President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney. Each of them is raising issues that are third rail to the two most prominent political parties in the United States. They are going up against political bigotry and a winner-take-all political system and trying to change the national conversation. So any person claiming to support the idea of democracy should be willing to admit it is not true that these are ten issues being ignored by the presidential campaign.

It is true if one does not wish to consider Anderson, Johnson or Stein, who are on the ballots in a number of states, as candidates. It is true if one has a disposition against treating the efforts of third party presidential candidates to influence national discussion as legitimate or if one is content with the same old stale two-party politics, which has contributed to the decline of society. But if one is not adolescent in his or her political views, these are people who deserve to be considered alongside Obama and Romney, people who are just as entitled to votes as Obama or Romney.

Additionally, if Anderson, Johnson and Stein were allowed into the presidential debates, the issues that organizations, groups and citizens rightfully think are not discussed enough might be raised. However, the Commission on Presidential Debates serves the two major political parties and neither party wishes to be exposed by any third party candidate that might—as the politically savvy like to put it—”spoil” their campaign.

In conclusion, the list of issues not being discussed during the presidential campaign could be reduced to India/Pakistan conflict, overfishing, global disease and malnutrition, factory farming, the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and segregation by race and class in education. These issues are not really being talked about by any candidate running for the presidency of the United States. Or the post could simply be retitled “Issues the Two Major Party Presidential Candidates Refuse to Discuss.”

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."