Lots of young kids holding signs outside at a demonstration that say Defend DACA Defend Dreamers and No Human Being is Illegal

I will not begin this week by providing an overview of February. It was a month full of shootings and a disgraceful lack of interest from our national leaders. There is nothing more to say except every member of the legislative and executive branches should be filled with so much shame they do everything in their power to make March a profoundly superior month.

The fast-approaching midterm primaries and general elections are already taking their toll on the country’s progress. Discussions about real issues are at a minimum, and new legislation isn’t exactly flying through the Congress. Yet again, it is as though politicians are trying to prevent their opponents from gaining votes rather than earning them for themselves. This is a time when incumbents should be affecting positive change so they have a real record to run on. Challengers should be proposing grandiose, Earth-shattering plans to end generations of destruction and injustice. Instead, they are steering clear of everything remotely controversial and leaving far too much in a political no man’s land.

The president this week announced new tariffs on foreign-produced steel and aluminum. Just like the solar panel tariff, this new trade development is intended to boost American employment and profits. However, on its own, it achieves nothing except some irked international partners. It is insane to buy products from other countries (especially those with terrible human rights records) when American workers can be paid to make them. But there must be programs and incentives in place to assist domestic companies. Steel will only become more expensive and less available under this administration. That could easily be overcome by financial incentives for manufacturers, stronger unions in every workplace, and higher quality standards for materials used in this country. Solar panels will also be more expensive and so will be another front on which the United States isn’t combating climate change. As the administration isn’t doing anything except for the trade tariffs, America will very soon start losing out. It is plain for all to see, but the Congress has made no effort to step in and help. Organized labor has been politically abandoned for decades while green energy industries are having to progress on their own. Abstinence education and inedible corn receive government assistance, but not technologies that will help prevent the literal end of the world as we know it. This kind of issue should be a no-brainer in an election year. Candidates could be directly giving jobs to Americans and slowing down climate change, all while showing resistance to the far-right forces that will destroy everything. Votes cannot be lost by fighting unemployment and climate change at the same time. Trump’s trade cloud could (and should) have a significant silver lining.

Our Representatives and Senators are also failing to act on guns and immigration. If there was ever a time for a political candidate to develop a spine and say “I’m coming for your guns,” it’s now. There is overwhelming support for tough gun control legislation all across the country. If a pro-sanity, anti-murder candidate wins, they have a mandate for ending the tireless scourge of firearms. If they lose, their constituents have shown their true colors and the rest of the country will know who and where to avoid and boycott. It is incomprehensible for someone running for elected office to think it is acceptable for people to run around with handguns and assault rifles. In almost every other democracy, that kind of a candidate would have a hard time even getting close to winning. All that has happened since the mass murder in Florida is some chitchat about mild, inadequate reforms to existing laws. Various members of Congress have proposed strengthening background checks, closing the gun show loophole, banning assault weapons and bump stocks, and raising the age limit. Background checks do need to be more thorough and more commonly used, but they won’t prevent psychos stealing or borrowing legally-owned guns. They won’t prevent shootings that happen in the heat of the moment or those committed by individuals who have recently developed mental health complications. The gun show loophole is a good idea but insufficient. Assault weapons and bump stocks should be banned, but they are not the only firearms used in the commission of crimes. Every single day, people living in this country are killed, injured, or otherwise affected by handguns. It is fantastic that so many people are finally discussing ending mass shootings, but why isn’t everyone talking about stopping shootings altogether? The age limit must be raised but it won’t achieve much as a solitary measure. Everyone taking part in this year’s elections needs to take a firm position on this issue and let the voters know what kind of a future they could be looking at.

As for immigration, nothing looks like it will be done any time soon. The Democrats wasted the shutdown and are wasting the buildup to the midterms. They could be locking in the support of America’s fastest-growing demographic, one that could at some point in the future become the majority. They should be kicking and screaming for protections for the Dreamers, as well as an end to all inhumane deportations. Keeping families together and combating institutionalized racism are pretty good achievements to boast about on the campaign trail. Sadly, a few assholes will be angry about cantaloupe smugglers being given passports, so no-one wants to properly wade in on the issue. Every candidate, especially Democrats, must realize that in America it is impossible to please everyone, even some of the time. There will be racists, gun lovers, rapists, election thieves, coal enthusiasts, robber barons, and mindless believers who will hate anything that doesn’t come from the far-right. They’re going to be pissed off no matter what, so why not really give them something to bitch and moan about? It is so much more desirable to win with a simple majority than to lose while aiming for a 100% approval rating. Far too many politicians are avoiding important subject areas for fear of taking a hit. They should remember that those who fought in and between the trenches were hailed as heroes. Those who went AWOL were regarded as cowards.

Speaking of untouched issues, here’s a list of what else hasn’t been addressed since the last elections:

  • Single-payer healthcare
  • Underfunded public schools
  • Legalization of marijuana
  • The crushing burden of student debt
  • Criminal justice reform
  • Minimum wage hike
  • and the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on………………..

As you prepare to go to your polling station this year, think about who you previously voted for and what has (and hasn’t) been achieved since then. Consider who on your ballot will provide progress, not just change. An incumbent who has not done everything imaginable to keep their campaign promises should not be reelected. A newcomer who does not offer something starkly different from an incumbent you disagree with shouldn’t get your vote. A candidate whose politics and positions do not line up with yours does not deserve to be your voice in Washington. It is 2018 and it is far too late to vote for compromise candidates or slick, empty politicos. Vote for genuine progressives. Vote for yourself. Vote for your family. Vote for your country.