Issue with students ignoring issues

By Eddie Sarrine

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Regarding U.S. political policy, college students possess an undeniable ability to forcefully debate the subject. We’ve formed opinions on U.S. social policies, international policies, economic policies and even military policies, coincidentally, with most of us having never voted in a presidential election. It’s a good thing we’ve kept up with current affairs because in about 15 months, we’ll finally have the chance to speak up. Yes, in no time it will be Election Day, and we’ll be voting for candidates who will address some of the most controversial political issues our country has faced in decades.

The most apparent and notorious issue is the war on terror. I’ll be candid and suggest a majority of Americans are indeed in favor of a secure, terror-free nation protected by a strong military. Over the past six years, the increased military security at airports, our national borders and even the New York Stock Exchange has been well received. No one wants to witness another terrorist attack, so we support our soldiers, hoping our families can live safe and worry-free lives.

Yet media polls consistently confirm a majority of Americans are less than satisfied with the current administration’s strategies in Iraq. I cannot say if the consensus demands a change in military strategy or a complete withdrawal from the region. However, it’s painfully clear the candidates are going to have to address this issue. Obviously the threat of anti-American regimes exists – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent condemnation of western society scares me to death. However, the war has become exceedingly costly, on fiscal and social levels. Candidates must propose solutions that will balance military defense with the demands of the voters.

Foreign economic competition is another major issue the candidates will undoubtedly face. Over the past five years, the U.S. has become a significantly less attractive place for corporations to conduct business. The U.S. corporate tax rate is one of the highest among free-enterprise capitalist countries (35 percent in the U.S. vs. 25 percent in Germany and 12.5 percent in Ireland), and it has forced thousands of companies to move business overseas.

Additionally, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, originally put in place to prevent another Enron scandal, has unfavorably resulted in companies listing their stock on more business-friendly stock exchanges, such as the London Stock Exchange. If America wants to keep its competitive edge, candidates will have to display savvy solutions for our country’s corporate problems.

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Energy is another significant problem the candidates will have to address. Unfortunately, there are few alternatives to dirty coal-fired and gas-fired power plants. America missed the opportunity to build a sufficient nuclear-powered infrastructure, and because of the required time table on nuclear energy, it will take another 15 years for a nuclear power plant to come online. Crude oil is sitting at record levels, and high gas prices are taking a toll on Americans’ pocketbooks. Voters should consider candidates with innovative ideas for future energy sources. Technological subsidies could spur revolutionary research and development in the industry.

Of course, there are countless other political issues facing the 2008 presidential candidates: global trade, global warming, income taxes, gay rights and education. It’s crucial for us to start learning about these issues now. In 2008, our votes will help shape public policy that will affect us and our children for years to come.