Political football: Let’s address other issues | Editorials

MILLIONS of Americans continue to struggle in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, with residents Puerto Rico told to expect to go weeks – maybe longer – without electricity. In the meantime, residents in Texas, Florida and across the Caribbean try to piece the homes and lives back together after these powerful storms.

Leaders in North Korea continue to threaten the United States and its allies in the Pacific with nuclear retaliation for insults real and imagined, as President Trump’s rhetoric fuels the conflict. And the president recently decided to threaten Iran in a similar fashion as that nation continues to develop long-range missiles and potentially nuclear weapons.

Congress cannot agree on comprehensive health care reform, leaving Americans with alternatives so expensive they really don’t serve as an alternative at all, and the possibility of wiping out paying for any kind of health care for those with pre-existing conditions remains a shadow in their future.

These are just three of the real and serious issues America’s leaders must address soon.

A special investigation of President Trump and his associates continues as officials try to determine whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians during the 2016 election.

So what’s the discussion about today? Whether professional athletes should be able to express their constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful protest by not standing during the national anthem.

The nation’s courts have agreed time after time that no one can be forced to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance or stand for the national anthem under the rights listed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Whether you agree with the protests – originally meant to draw attention to problems Americans of color experience – or not, the actions are protected.

Yet President Trump continues to fan the flames of division among us with his comments. None of the protesters asked anyone to join them. They just wanted to bring attention to a problem they thought was not being properly addressed. If those who watch professional sports don’t agree, they can change the channel or give up their tickets.

So amid all of the somewhat breathless commentary about who is sitting and who is standing, the much more serious issues facing America get pushed out of the spotlight. Whether by design or by chance, the recovery after three major hurricanes, the threat of nuclear war, the fate of health care for Americans and the possibility of wrongdoing at the highest levels of our government have taken a back seat to who sits and who stands.

It’s time to pay real attention to the real issues. Now.

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