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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 8, 2012 in Newport News, Va. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 8, 2012 in Newport News, Va. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Expats debate: What Romney and Obama haven’t been talking about Add to ...

With less than four weeks until election day, the Republicans and Democrats have covered a lot of ground in their campaigns. But what have they missed?

This is part of our U.S. Election 2012: Canadians in America series – expats talking about life and politics south of the border.

Stefan Neata, an investment banker in New York City, from Toronto:

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I would like Mitt Romney to explain how he plans on creating 12 million jobs during a first term (in detail, not just with generalities). I would like him to explain whether he’s factored in the potential fiscal cliff into his considerations and estimates. Most important, I would like both candidates to tell us what they plan on doing about the fiscal cliff if they win the election but are faced with either a Senate or Congress that is hostile to their policy plans.

(Editor’s note: the fiscal cliff is the combination of tax hikes and dramatic spending cuts that will automatically hit the U.S. if the two parties don’t make a deal in Congress to avert them.)

Meredith Nelson,former management consultant in Raleigh, N.C., from Ottawa: :

Where are the big, transformational ideas? Regardless of what one thinks of Paul Ryan, his budget presented a bold blueprint for a new way forward: Mr. Romney squashed debate on on it pretty quickly.

During the Chicago teachers’ strike, it seemed the candidates might seize the moment and talk about their vision of educating future generations of Americans. I personally see education as the most important issue facing the nation and I would like to hear more from President Barack Obama on how/why he would invest. Conversely, if Mr. Romney truly believes that the states have the capacity to handle the issue then let’s talk about his alternative ideas about how to create a highly educated and skilled workforce able to handle the jobs of tomorrow, and, increasingly, today.

Jonathan Havercroft, a political science professor in Oklahoma City, from Montreal:

Most of the domestic policy debate was about passing money around – the debt, taxes, and the social safety net – and there was virtually no talk about infrastructure. Franklin D. Roosevelt, during the Great Depression, invested heavily in infrastructure. It helped turn around the economy and set America up for its post war expansion. Nobody is talking about infrastructure, and the U.S. infrastructure is aging and in rapid decline. I would like to see the candidates talk about their plans to rebuild America. FDR built the Hoover Dam. Eisenhower built the interstate system. What great public works project would each of these candidates undertake?

Jenny Zhang, who works in advertising in Greensboro, N.C., from Ottawa:

America is proud of its middle class and wants to prop it up – and rightfully so! – but not nearly enough attention is given to how people can climb into that middle class. In the debates it was painfully obvious that neither candidate was interested in the most marginalized groups in society: the poor, the racialized, the disadvantaged…the people who are already systematically and institutionally discriminated against.

The election feels like it’s been focus-grouped to death, and everyone is defined solely by their demographic profile. How do we appeal to single college-educated women, or blue-collar manufacturing workers? As a result, the rhetoric has consistently excluded those who are already left without a voice in mainstream politics. Why aren’t we discussing immigration, the “war” on drugs, the prison-industrial complex, gun control, institutionalized racism, reproductive rights, or LGBTQ rights? (For that matter, why are we so unconcerned about the government being so willing to erode our privacy and right to due process?)

I know it’s idealistic to want these issues to get national airtime even though they’re not politically popular, but I think it needs to be acknowledged that it’s not enough to focus exclusively on the middle class. Fifteen per cent of Americans live below the poverty line. Imagine what they could do if they had the same access to opportunities as everyone else.

Sherry Halfyard, career consultant in Phoenix, Ariz., from Vancouver Island, B.C.:

It’s almost as if “environment” is a dirty word in this election. There has been talk about the debt and future generations, but what about the long and short term impact of specific energy choices and a nation of poorly educated youth?

I know Mr. Obama has supported green energy and made some unsuccessful choices in companies he has invested in. Unfortunately, the Democrats now seem afraid to play the sustainability card.

Both candidates touched on energy, and in terms of the U.S. becoming more self-reliant, they were in agreement. Disparity occurs between the types of energy and methods of extraction. From what I see the Republicans and some Democrats are focused on short-term economic gain versus a vision for a healthy sustainable future.

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