What’s the most important issue of this election?

The political campaigns are ratcheting up in anticipation for the election, only a couple of weeks away. Every politician is trying their hardest to show why they are the better candidate for political office.

For this week’s “In Focus,” various Northern Star columnists will weigh in on this question: What is the most important issue for this upcoming election, and who do you think answers it better?

Aaron Brooks, columnist: As demonstrated by this election, issue number one should be education. Many of the politicians, mainly Republicans and Tea Partiers, have no rational plan on how to solve this nation’s problems. The ignorant voters they target have an unfounded view of the Constitution, shortsighted conception of taxes and lack the capacity to deduce how we got to where we are today. The Democrats, however, are failing miserably at communicating the purpose of their agenda, along with results achieved, pending, and coming. Since none of the political parties have spoken about increasing the general level of education of Americans, the winners are inevitably those who use ignorance to their advantage: the Republicans and Tea Partiers.

Phil Case, columnist: On a personal level, the most important issues of this election are social issues. I believe the Democrats are taking the correct approach in trying to protect and extend social rights in terms of immigration reform and LGBT/women’s rights, whereas the GOP seems concerned with restricting these rights to the point of making them exclusive to their voter base. On the national scale, the primary issue seems to be the state of the economy and job growth. However, I believe that spending on things like education and energy reform will ultimately help more than any sort of “trickle down” effect from upper-bracket tax cuts.

Jessica Jenks, columnist: When I am arguing or discussing something, I like to know what I am talking about so I do not sound foolish. If I am not very knowledgeable about a certain topic, I’ll admit it. I know very little about politics, but I do not really care. Should I? Probably. I just don’t. I try to get interested and informed, but I always get the feeling that candidates are making empty promises to get elected. Few things ever go as planned after the candidate is in office, so whats the point? People tell you what you want to hear, then do what they want.

Portia Kerr-Newman, columnist: If a candidate looks out for the greater good of their community, I believe they would serve as a good candidate. A candidate who has an open mind and is willing to take criticism from the people they serve shows people a lot about them as a person. Anybody can give a good speech, but a good candidate is actually capable of making promises and carrying them out. The candidate needs to know issues going on in the community, what people have to say about them and ways to better things for everyone. People have lost a lot of trust in the government, a good candidate would gain that trust back.

Kathryn Minniti, columnist: Instead of announcing whether I am Republican or Democratic in this question, point fingers at the other side, and state how my chosen candidate will do better than the others; I just want someone honest and loyal to our state to come in and clean up the mess that Rod Blagojevich made. Illinois’ debt needs to be fixed right away. I do not care if they are wearing blue or red at this point. Democrat or Republican, I want it to get done. So many students this year were not able to attend college because financial aid ran out. That is disappointing. If I had to pick an issue, it would be our debt. If I had to pick someone to do this, I want someone that I can trust and someone that will not put lies on the table just to get elected and then have a different agenda.

Logan Short, columnist: The most important issues in this election are efficiency and rationale. I am tired of politicians who make decisions off of the fears of the public, what threatens our freedom or whatever they use as an excuse to push their agenda. We need legislation that works, no matter the political principle of it, which is why I lean toward Democrats at this point. Our economy fell apart during the Bush years, they made tax cuts for the wealthy. Doing the same thing now doesn’t seem rational because it obviously didn’t work. Whether it’s economic policy, education, environment, I want a candidate whose going to vote for what actually works, not necessarily what they believe is right based off their own principles.

Taurean Small, columnist: The most important issue in this upcoming election is voter indifference. Past politicians have tainted Illinois’s image, consequently making a lot of voters nervous. Older voters are probably wondering “why should I vote for another potentially corrupt politician?” While younger voters are wondering “why should I care?” Usually the youth vote is harder to appeal to, but there could be less of a difference in youth to older voter ratio in this year’s elections. Ultimately, the only way candidates can inspire voter participation is by being active in the community. No other candidate has shown more community presence than Secretary of State Jesse White. His dedication to underprivileged neighborhoods and numerous thriving initiatives has served as model representations of public service for many years.