Off the Radar: Important Issues the Candidates Won't Raise in 2012

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When there is no political incentive to talk about vital matters only the press can inject them into a presidential campaign.

Voters pay more attention to politics during presidential elections than at any other time. Issues that don't come up in televised debates, campaign commercials, or mainstream media coverage are effectively off the radar of the American people, which means either that they go unaddressed or that outcomes are dictated by lobbyists, whose power is at its zenith when members of Congress feel no pressure from constituents to push policy in one direction or another. Since there are important issues that presidential campaigns have no incentive to raise on their own, the press has an important duty to make independent judgments about what is important. Politics coverage is nevertheless driven, more than anything else, by what the campaigns say.

What if folks of all ideological persuasions kicked off Campaign 2012 by laying out the issues that are unlikely to come up on their own, but that merit attention the attention of candidates and voters?

The following are among my picks. (This is hardly an exhaustive list, so I hope that folks with different interests than mine will make their own.)

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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