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What do voters really want?
by Yeh Ling-Ling and Fred Elbel, published in the Denver Post, Opinion Guest Commentary, August 24, 2008
According to many recent polls, most Americans believe the nation is "headed on the wrong track." What should presidential candidates do to effectively address voters' concerns?
High energy and health care costs are on the minds of most Americans. They are also concerned about their jobs, the future of their children, and our swelling national debt. They want a more secure homeland, wish to see oppressed people in other nations enjoy freedom and democracy, yet recognize that the war in Iraq is a costly and losing venture.
Democrats and Republicans alike are frustrated at their own parties for betraying their traditional missions. They feel that candidates are more concerned about getting elected than addressing their concerns. Although most voters want real change in our political system, few have faith that fruitful change will actually occur after the election.
Most Americans are neither extreme left-wing nor extreme right-wing. Proposing a "centrist" platform does not mean being spend-thrift, pro-cheap labor or pandering to a special group of constituents. The most popular presidential candidate will be one who offers solutions that are fiscally responsible and environmentally sound and will unify this fragmented nation.
This candidate should candidly explain to Americans that all causes are lost causes unless we also curb our population growth. Adding three million people a year to the U.S. population, mostly due to immigration, will essentially mean more energy consumers, job-seekers and people needing health care, education and many other social services.
The candidate should encourage each of us to cut consumption; promote alternative green energy; but oppose the drilling of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Simultaneously, he should explain that even green energy is costly and polluting. Reduced consumption will have little progress if we allow the population to swell.
This national leader should reform our health care system. Yet, according to the U.S. Census data, immigrants, legal and illegal, arriving since 1989 and their U.S.-born children account for over 70% of the growth of the uninsured population. Therefore, any sensible health care reform must include immigration reduction. This will also help our education reform.
According to test scores, many American children are falling behind their counterparts in many countries in Asia and Europe partly due to explosive immigration-related enrollments. Once immigration reduced, instead of promoting the "No Child Left Behind Act," educators should emphasize the 3 R's and critical thinking.
In order to stabilize our population, the presidential candidate should advocate serious enforcement of our immigration laws, so that we can put adult able-bodied welfare recipients, non-violent prison inmates and other unemployed legal residents to work in jobs currently held by illegal migrants. Employers should also be given incentives to train Americans.
The above steps should be coupled with a reduction in legal immigration currently at about one million a year to a level that would not add more pressure to our labor markets or fiscal and natural resources. This nation's priority should focus on American citizens and legal immigrants already here. Teen pregnancies, hundreds of thousands a year, should also be curbed.
A popular leader should also oppose granting U.S. citizenship to the possible 20 to 38 million illegal immigrants already here: This will lead to an explosion of legal and illegal immigration. With millions of newly naturalized adults becoming potential voters, there is little chance that our immigration laws will be seriously enforced. Furthermore, most legalized citizens will likely bring in their extended their families.
Few Americans want the U.S. to continue to borrow from China, Japan, Dubai and many other countries to finance our current needs. The next fiscally responsible president should find a swift and responsible way to pull out of Iraq. Substantially increase border patrol to intercept would-be illegal crossers is a necessary step to ensure our own homeland security.
Even the majority of immigrant and Hispanic American parents want their children to learn English. The presidential candidate should advocate English as the only official language of this land to unify this multi-ethnic nation. By adopting the above policies, victory is certain, regardless of his racial background or political affiliation.
Yeh Ling-Ling is executive director of Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America, whose leaders and supporters are racially and politically diverse. Fred Elbel is former director of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform.