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It was gut wrenching to watch the Democratic Town Hall on CNN a couple of nights ago. Not just because I think of CNN as Fox's liberal cousin. All opinion, all the time, little substance and full-time punditry. Plus, now they are tripping over themselves over the mini country of liberal candidates before us. I was gobsmacked because in this Town Hall, the candidates left me dazed and confused.

The lack of fiscal discipline in the crop running for President on the left runs wide and deep. "Nibbling on the outside" is a phrase that Pete Buttigieg used to describe how not to deal with the important issues of our times: immigration, jobs, and climate change. Some of the candidates talked ad nauseam about these topics. The next morning, even the liberal media rejected their flagship ideas. These politicians tout what government needs to do but not how to pay for it. Liberals have a stunning distaste for answering this question. Oh, I am no saint. This question still doesn't come easily to me either.

The latest news is that Social Security will be unsustainable beyond 2035. Wait, what?! Please tell me when was the last time your favorite politician on the left talked to you about this?

Mayor Pete said the word "fiscal" in the first 5 minutes of his Town Hall appearance. I immediately sat up. His take on manufacturing was insightful. The biggest threat isn't jobs going overseas - that ship sailed a very long time ago - it is job loss due to automation. Think about robots and automation in manufacturing to realize that the landscape has changed permanently and that there's no going back. Does your favorite Dem politician talk about this? Instead your favorite GOP politician talks vacuously about "bringing jobs back".

And then there is immigration. The system is profoundly broken. Regardless of your political affiliation, if you can't admit to that then please dunk ice water on your head. The legal system is so backlogged that what used to take 2-3 weeks is now taking upwards of years. People are in limbo. Immigration services is not even able to respond to requests for updates on cases, let alone act on them. Very smart and contributing members of our society are stuck in this morass. On the other end, the count of undocumented people runs in the millions, 11M to be precise of whom 700K are "dreamers" - brought to this country as children and stuck in the twilight zone. And migrants are a constant presence on the southern border. The Republicans talk about this topic as if there's only one solution - shut the borders and hide with your head in the sand. The Democrats do a good job of reminding us we can do better. Hell yeah, because we surely can't do any worse.

Climate change is the third leg of the stool. Reality is that jobs and immigration will be moot points when the deluge comes. All the candidates on the left say "yes" in unison to dealing with climate change but the ideas are not well formed yet. Hope we see more on this front sooner than later. Ah, maybe social security running out in 2035 will do us in before climate change will.

There are 20-odd people running on the Democratic side and most share a common platform - they are running to get rid of the current crop. Raise your hand if you want to move toward specific outcomes and not just away from something. I am going to keep an eye on Buttigieg. He is very smart, charismatic, and has innovative ideas. He's not angry and he doesn't get flustered which means he has the temperament to take on a particularly divisive opponent. It is too early to know if he can outlast his opponents. He made a small town better and I wonder how well he will scale to the larger stage.

In the meantime, he shares my birthday (yay, Capricorns!) and went to a high school with the same name as mine (go St. Joseph's!). Pfft, what's not to like?!

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