ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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US Election 2000

The US presidential elections may be judged by the issues that are not debated by the candidates. Issues relating to social welfare, environmental protection, health services and labour are important to the people but not to those who finance the campaign and hence are ignored.

The most striking aspect of the US presidential and congressional elections is the gap between the stated people’s needs and the programmes of Republican Bush and Democrat Gore. There is also a profound gap between the ‘populist’ campaign rhetoric and the massive big business campaign funding (the two candidates will receive over $ 300 million) which leads whatever party that wins to ignore the electorate and service the corporate elite. Like the dog that did not bark in one of Sherlock Holmes’s stories, the most revealing element in the presidential elections is the issues that are not discussed or debated. What is important to note is that public opinion polls demonstrate that a majority of US citizens are very concerned with these issues which are ignored by the two candidates.

On the domestic front the ‘non-issues’ include the most basic concerns affecting employment, health, environment, minority and women’s rights and the growing police state. Neither Bush nor Gore discusses the following issues: (1) the massive growth of low wage job without any social benefits (health plans, pensions, etc); (2) the massive increase in the number of working people without health insurance (44 million) and inadequate health coverage (55 million) because of the high cost of private insurance; (3) the decline in corporate funded pension plans – only 20 per cent of pensions are financed by the employers; (4) the failure of private health schemes – they seek to ensure the young and healthy and abandon the old and weak; (5) increase in regressive taxes in which speculator billionaires pay few or no corporate taxes and wage and salaried workers pay 30 per cent-40 per cent of income in taxes; (6) the total absence of any paid maternity leave; (7) the imprisonment of 2 million people, over 6,00,000 serving long sentences for non-violent drug possession (less than one ounce of marijuana); (8) the exploitation of cheap prison labour by major multinational corporations – 3,50,000 prisoners are employed at below the minimum wage by airlines, textiles, insurance companies, etc; (9) the exploitation of five million immigrant workers in sweatshops and plantations without adequate health, safety and housing conditions and at below a liveable wage; (10) the extension of the working year – US workers average 2,000 hours a year compared to 1,750 in Spain and 1,500 in Germany, leaving little or no time for family life (despite all the empty rhetoric of both candidates about ‘family values’); (11) the forced labour of mothers with dependent children at minimum wage and without child daycare support centres; (12) the increase in ecological devastation by mining, loggers and real estate developers operating on public lands; (13) growth of police violence against racial minorities – including impunity for police involved in assassinating unarmed civilians.

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