A brief note about the 2016 presidential election

Hey, Americans. I want you to know that I’m looking for a few things from my national leadership, especially the President.

  1. Infrastructure investment. Doing this is how we will solve a huge number of problems: Want to create jobs? Advance American science and technology? Mitigate global warming? Fix broken bridges? Make the electric grid more robust to cyberattack? Then we have to invest in our highways, power systems, public transit, National Science Foundation, NASA, and data systems. This all takes concerted national effort and a lot of money, but the important thing about it being an investment is that the payoff is greater than the cost!
  2. An end to the attitude of constant warfare that has pervaded American foreign policy since World War II. Most, if not all, of the foreign policy challenges America faces today are of our own making. We need to stop doing that! We could also save a ton of money in the defense arena. I’m convinced that the US Department of Defense budget could be half of what it currently is, and the US would suffer no loss to national security. (In fact, ending some of our more specifically provocative programs like drone strikes, prompt global strike weapons, or the recently unveiled B-21 would probably increase our national security, by de-escalating arms races and conflicts.)
  3. A considered, logical, and data-based approach to solving our pressing problems. Issues like income inequality, racism, campaign finance reform, education, the national debt, immigration, foreign policy – or anything else, really – cannot be solved with a simplistically soundbyte-y ideologies like “build a wall,” “create jobs,” or “bomb them.” They are complex, multifaceted problems, and we know from history, science, or economics which solutions are more likely to work and which are not. We should use that knowledge. To give an example, if we want to reduce the incidence of gun deaths, studies show that the most effective way to do so is to reduce the rate of gun ownership. To give another, global warming is definitely a thing, definitely caused by humans, and definitely going to threaten our lives and livelihoods in the future: we should fix it, and we know how. In some way, a reduced role for ideology may help advance the other two points, too.

It would be nice to see more of these perspectives from the campaign trail. None of the Republicans have any interest in any of my points. Most of them actually seem to take opposite positions; to listen to their debates, I guess America needs less investment, more war, and more ideology. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton seems to be interested in items 1 and 3, while Bernie Sanders seems to like them all. If only Congress had more adherents to these ideas!

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