Jack Simpson - National mood points to desire for change

Many citizens are being turned off by all of the political rhetoric. Campaigns seem much too long and involve a great deal of money. One thing is evident. People want change. They dislike unqualified cronies running their government agencies. Large numbers of voters are frustrated with the war in Iraq and threats of war with Iran. Friends and neighbors fear recession and the way they are suffering economically. The middle class is losing purchasing power.

Because of some of these difficulties, the job approval ratings of the president and Congress are down. Few leaders seem to have found answers to illegal immigration. Partisanship prevents solutions to this and many other national problems.

Wouldn't you enjoy seeing someone reform healthcare, improve veterans' care, and act positively about environmental issues?

A lot of us feel we are becoming disconnected from the American dream. Our jobs may be outsourced abroad, our homes are facing foreclosure and our economic anxiety is accelerating.

Certainly there is voter apathy and not everyone bothers to vote. Some among us are so turned off that they no longer listen and do not care about most national issues. A few are more concerned about whether Britney Spears is wearing underwear or what Neil Diamond really had in mind when he wrote "Sweet Caroline," claiming his inspiration was 11-year-old Caroline Kennedy!

Think about it. Individuals may turn off quickly when they hear candidate Mike Huckabee's solution to secure borders is Chuck Norris. Turn a deaf ear after Hillary Clinton says she thinks giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants might be a good thing. Then, Mr.Giuliani runs on his popularity at the time of 9/11, but others point out that his city operations center at the time may have been dysfunctional.

So who cares about all of this anyway? Helio and Julianne were victorious on "Dancing with the Stars," and Oprah is campaigning with Sen. Barack Obama. Some say he lacks the experience to be president, but he answers that we need new ideas, a new direction, and a new face in Washington.

Yes, and about 40 percent of people pity Michael Vick and feel he got a raw deal. Vick was not tried by a jury; he entered a guilty plea, admitted lying, hanging a pit bull, financing a dog fighting operation and smoking pot while his case was pending. As great an athlete as he was, he made his own choice to be a poor role model.

Returning to real issues, who among us will seriously address climate change and recognize we may be in a period of "abrupt and irreversible" damage to the planet? Which candidate will have the courage to insist that corporate polluters change their operations? President Bush has threatened to veto any bill that includes carbon caps. Who will change and adopt a new program?

The campaign swings along as candidates attend political rallies and work hard to define themselves to voters. Some claim to be addressing problems in the economy, healthcare, housing and higher energy costs. Others still cannot really be themselves. They're beholden to the fat cats and the lobbyists.

Voters who are listening try to cut through all the talk and learn who can effectively lead in solving national problems and who can bring the budget in line so it will not have to be balanced on the backs of youngsters, oldsters and the poor. Which candidate espouses positions and principles preferable to those now so evident and so in need of change?

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Sunday.