Obama vs Romney: In Election 2012, We Must Ask Tough Questions about Human Rights


This election cycle, like many others, is a doozy. Everyone is yelling at each other, and nobody can seem to get a word in edgewise. Economic issues have taken the front burner. Solutions to these problems are pounded into our brains by the latest commercials and read by guys in really deep voices in order to let us know how important this is. (This candidate will solve ALL the problems!) Catchphrases and buzzwords like “middle class,” “working citizens,” and “cutting taxes”  abound. Candidates try to fit as much campaign rhetoric as they can into event after event.

But what are their solutions? What are they promising? Weeks away from the election and I’m still not sure.

From high unemployment to concerns in education to instability in the Middle East, It’s clear that there needs to be major institutional and structural change to not only our government but to our social systems.

But both candidates are offering nothing but the status quo.

Barack Obama, who started out so promising, has succumb to the abyss that is Washington D.C. bureaucracy, while Mitt Romney has revealed one too many times in his gaffes that he should not be president. Candidates' solutions have only focused on the symptoms of much larger issues. Major structural changes would bring scrutiny to issues like child abuse, poverty and single parents at the micro level, ensuring greater effectiveness in solving micro level problems in the long run.

Why don’t the elected officials focus on the smaller issues? Why have their reforms proven to be so ineffective most of the time? Why are they rendered useless once they get into office? Why do their proposed solutions and laws not work?

I alluded to it before when I said bureaucracy — it’s the system itself. Regardless which candidate you choose, the system itself is doomed from the get-go. It’s drowning in administrative red tape; it can’t be effective.

When children are returned to their abusive and toxic environments because of paperwork and a lack of social worker interest, when torture is administered in our prisons for profit and gain, when there is no money for food in the land of the free, when the least of these is not supported, uplifted and shown the tools for economic self-determination and a prosperous healthy life, then we cannot claim to be the great country we think we are.

We all have these questions. Because we see these news stories every day, we want and need them to be answered this election cycle.

But let’s stop looking to Washington and the bureaucracy. We’ve seen them rendered impotent time and time again. Insular administrative workers try to make laws that affect masses of individuals who live every day in squalor, pain and depression. These individuals live in conditions and circumstances that are unimaginable to the bureaucratic workers. How are they supposed to write laws and provide solutions to these problems?

When you don’t actually live the life of the poor, it’s hard to offer solutions and effective laws and structure for these families. In fact, it's next to impossible. It doesn’t matter how much research you do and how many studies you read. Until you actually live and go through the motions of going through a grocery line and counting out every single penny, and then still have to return food, I don’t understand how you can provide a way out of these situations. The desire to help might very well be there, but the lack of real-life knowledge is apparent in our laws.

Whether it’s bringing these individuals into policy conversations or  through traditional mechanisms such as non profits, churches, community, neighbors and families, it's important to recognize all the factors involved. We must recognize the real people affected by these problems, and stop talking at them and instead start talking with them. The tools for self-determination and the resources for successful economic and social equality won’t land at the feet of the needy. Awareness of the environment in which the underserved find themselves, as well as their awareness of the tools for solutions, will better the lives of everyone involved.

“I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream – I see an American nightmare.” Malcolm X