All year long, polls upon polls have been conducted, taking the up-to-date temperature of the electorate, gauging its interests, its hopes, disappointments- measuring what’s most important.

This data largely impacts the focus of the presidential campaigns, dictating their long term focus, so if voters say their minds are overwhelmingly set on the economy, stupid, well then that is largely what you’ll hear and have heard from presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Not only have campaign surrogates been pushing the economic agendas of their respective candidates, there have been some, mostly on the Republican end, that have tended to belittle the importance of many other issues that are debatably of equal or greater importance, for example, abortion.

We like to determine what will be the issues to vote on in the coming election, that is, what will be the single most important issue that swings a vote one way or the other, despite any other possible incompatibilities one has with their chosen candidate. It is decidedly the economy, not something like abortion rights, but the question to ask isn’t whether you base your vote on who will better handle the economy, it’s should you base your vote on how you think a candidate will handle the economy.

The consensus among a philosophically non-partisan group of economists is that a president has little control over the ebbs and flows of our capitalist system.

Economist and former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, Austan Goolsbee, has said, “I think the world vests too much power — certainly in the president, probably in Washington in general — for its influence on the economy, because most all of the economy has nothing to do with the government.”

In a nod to Goolsbee, the co-author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Stephen Dubner, explained in a March interview that the number one misunderstood function of government is its control over the economy.

Dubner noted former President Bill Clinton’s campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” as a potent one, but substantively lacking a grip on reality.

He explained, “Just once I’d love a presidential candidate to get up there on the stump and say: ‘My fellow Americans, I can’t control the U.S. economy. I’ve got a little bit of influence but mostly it does what it does. So if it gets worse on my watch, you shouldn’t blame me — and if it happens to get better, you probably shouldn’t give me too much credit either.'”

Despite the lack of real influence the POTUS has over the economy, it’s still number one in voters’ hearts. But some argue that it shouldn’t be. Some argue that reproductive rights, abortion rights in particular, are more critical, as they are matters the president actually has control over.

Often, abortion goes under the radar in an election season when there’s no immediate threat to abortion legislation like Roe v. Wade in the coming presidential term.

But this is not one of those elections.

Currently, there are two Democratic and two Republican judges who are over 74 years of age, making the idea of an open seat less of a theory and more of a looming reality.

It is likely that the next president of the United States will get to appoint a new Supreme Court Judge, which could either threaten or further secure Roe v. Wade.

But just a few short weeks ago, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R) played down the fragile status of abortion rights, saying, “[It’s simply] not an issue here… it doesn’t even move the radar at all.”

Republican Congressional Candidate John Koster agreed with Johnson’s sentiment as he dismissively referenced “the rape thing,” deeming it a non-issue as he continues to push for the outlaw of abortion without exceptions for rape and incest.

Regardless of your political stance on abortion, it would appear that voting on matters that are largely dismissed as “social issues,” and are therefore, secondary to what really counts in an election, actually make the most sense to base your vote on.

Everyone’s worried, waiting and watching as the economy soldiers on in its slow but steady recovery, from the father on the unemployment line to the small business owner to the single mom. But worrying, waiting and watching is arguably what the president does, as well.

It’s the fear of many that something really tangible- something like rolling back reproductive rights- will take a backseat and be set aside in this election, at least until the country is explicitly faced with the fateful vote to overturn Roe, but by then, it might be too late.


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As if serving as president for the past three-odd years isn’t proof enough, it seems some Republicans are still interested in the Reverend Wright and William Ayers ties to President Obama.

Just to recap and make a short story shorter, Obama was a member of Reverend Wright’s church for 20 years, of which, the controversy lies in the sporadically racist and unpatriotic remarks of Pastor Wright.

William Ayers, a former member of the radical, left-winged 1970’s organization called Weather Underground had been linked to Obama in that they both served on not-for-profit committee boards in the past.

In 2008, Republicans attacked Obama’s judgment in choosing to sit under the leadership of Reverend Wright and accused him of “palling around with terrorists” for his minor associations with the reformed Bill Ayers.

For some reason unbeknown to anyone with any satisfactory level of intelligence, Sarah Palin has offered her uninspired opinion on the 2012 campaign. Her advice? Resurrect the controversies that riddled the ’08 election against Obama. And never mind the fact that they failed then, and will no doubt fail now.

Why anyone would ask the loser of the ’08 campaign as to how Romney can win in this election is beyond me, but not beyond Fox News.

Fox News anchor Sean Hannity recently had General Colin Powell (who endorsed Obama in 2008) on his show and tried desperately to get Powell to speak against the Bill Ayers and Wright associations. Needless to say, he failed.

Good old Donald Trump has chimed in as well, encouraging Romney to “go at it,” talking about the Reverend Wright attacks. And lest we forget, despite Trumps’ waltz around a possible run for president, he is not a politician. He’s a businessman and celebrity, so why his political advice is being entertained is another one for the cavemen to mull over.

But let’s entertain this argument for the briefest moment.

If Obama was an “empty vessel” as Palin puts it, and these ties have all the legitimacy that Republicans claimed back in 2008, what is that to say about Barack Obama exactly?

He’s racist against whites? He’s anti-American? He’s a terrorist himself or by way of association? What is the point of bringing up these attacks?

Because I can think of nothing more American than running for the presidential office, or giving the “OK” that initiated the demise of the leading world terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. And while Barack Obama is half black, he’s also half white, and is just as likely to be racist against blacks as he would be against whites.

But even if that’s not convincing enough, wouldn’t he have conducted an attack in his first term as president? I’ve never consulted with a terrorist, personally, but if BIn Laden were still alive, I’m sure he’d express some disappointment in an opportunity missed and consider the president terrible at being a terrorist.

Any serious political analyst will agree these sideshow issues could offer momentary advantage at best to Mitt Romney but are useless in the long run. These matter slept so soundly in their graves these past years, now it’s time to lay them to rest once and for all.

A recent discussion hosted by Fox News Channel caught my attention on the subject of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan and the appropriateness of his presence at the ninth annual African Black Coalition Conference at Berkley College. It was an event hosted by the Black Student Union on campus and garnered maximum attendance, despite petitions against his appearance.

While Farrakhan’s past writings are known for their controversial remarks and considerably racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments, the most disturbing aspect of this discussion was the lack of context afforded to Farrakhan and his audience; the highlights centered on shaming the student council for inviting him, and the audience for willingly attending. But for anyone to look at those students and condemn them for not forfeiting the opportunity to merely listen to the words of an historical black figure is simply and severely out of touch with the ever-evolving black perspective in America.

If I were given the chance to hear Farrakhan, I would’ve attended the talk, as well, and this fact makes me neither homophobic nor anti-white. The idea is mostly absurd for the simple fact that my own grandfather- once a sharecropper and migrant to the north in search of a new life- has said deplorable things certainly conditioned by his upbringing in the dawn of black civil activism, that I undoubtedly encourage him to keep within the privacy of his own home. He warns me to be cautious of the “white man” and to not be fooled by a phantom status they’ll lead me to believe that I now hold in this country. A we’ve-come-so-far-yet-not-far-enough mentality fueled by the fear that things could somehow return to their dark, inhuman roots are not in the least bit unrealistic or irrational for my grandfather and others of similar narratives. I simply brush these comments aside, listening and heavily diluting them, just as I would Farrakhan’s words. The fact is, I understand my grandfather’s perspective, as it is one I could never match, nor would I ever want to. It’s a knowledge- a seeing of things I have not seen, vivid memories of hate and restriction- a constant echoed pattern from yesterday that continue to chastise and frustrate his today.

This guilty-by-association conviction played out for Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign when it surfaced that his family had been regular members of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ. Just like Farrakhan, Wright has preached questionable content some would consider irrelevant to religion and out of place in the pulpit. Select media heads zoned in on this relationship and attempted to color Obama as an undercover hate-monger and racist. Now, I think it’s safe to assume that every Sunday, Wright wasn’t preaching some politically, racially-charged sermon, as I confidently doubt his 250+ Christian membership, with a prioritized interest in hearing the word of God, would make such a habit of attending as they have. No one seems to consider the relative anomaly of these digressions, and most importantly, what inspires such attitudes.

There’s no excuse for racism, whether your ancestry falls onto the side of the oppressor or oppressed, but rather this is a call for tolerable consideration and appreciation of why the formerly oppressed might be resentful and above all else, skeptical even in this modern day. Those like Reverend Wright, Louis Farrakhan and my grandfather are elders to my generation and younger, and feel a duty, more or less, to maintain our guard. And furthermore, simply picking up a book and learning about black history in the U.S. is enough to inspire the building of a defense mechanism, no wild, Farrakhan rhetoric needed. But whether that guard is as strong as iron or as brittle as glass is a personal matter, so do not look to Farrakhan, look to me.