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In US politics, what are this country's political "third rails" (and which should we address now)?

Third rail (metaphor) from Wikipedia: phrase third rail is a metaphor in politics to denote an idea or topic that is so "charged" and "untouchable" that any politician or public official who dares to broach the subject would invariably suffer politically.-Opposing Israel or its policies-Raising taxes -Gun control legislation -Eliminating or radically social programs like social security or welfare-Reducing what we pay for military spending -Cutting funding for law enforcement -Abortion -Creating a National Identity Card -Legalization and taxation of controlled substances Cutting funding for the "War on Drugs" -Suggesting that race and crime are related -Suggesting that certain religions or faiths are closely tied with violence Which politicals "third rail(s)" MOST NEED to be addressed?
Mac....Of Moot and Mac:

What good are any of these topics if we have several million dead and dying due to terrorist attacks?..........Oh, I noticed you don't include survival of our populace worth mentioning...........Seems like if we don't mention terrorist......they just go away?


Ya know, dude? I'm just asking a question. There are controversial issues and our nation may need to discuss cuts somewhere. Defense of the country is only one or two of the topics shown above.

But since you brought it up, wouldn't it be smarter to keep the military spending where it is, but move troops from Iraq and over to the southern border of the US where REAL threats are right here on our own continent. You increase national security from "terrorists," you can better control illegal immigration, and you can get a barrier between us the the drug lords operating more and more widely from Mexico and the US.

So why so angry, and why at me? You don't love our country enough to discuss the issues? Why all of the jumps to conclusions?

Mac....Of Moot and Mac:

War on Terror.......Constantly.........or everything else is pointless. Social Security..........Bush tried to fix it years ago and no one would's fixing to bite the whole country in the Butt and he will be blamed.


Bush "fixed" it all right. Stole from it is more accurate.

Forget Bush. SS is one of those topics that all politicians avoid. Should we continue funding it? Kill it off altogether? How do we fund it in the future if it still exists in any form? What do YOU think?


What a great reminder to vote. This answer never addressed the question.

No skinny:

Social Security needs to be addressed and keep their fingers out of it and leave it alone as promised. In 1965 Lyndon Johnson started taking from it and putting it in the General Fund. The problems that exist today would not be if he and everyone would just quit stealing from it and let it draw interest as it should there would be more than enough. Need to keep supporting Israel, leave the second amendment alone. Keep our armies strong and quit trying to keep up the world and look after the home front first. Quit financing anything in the Abortion Industry. Leave our taxes alone and not raise. Cut a lot of people in Washington there are too many people there doing nothing. and get rid of the Central Bank called the Federal reserve bank nothing but a bunch of private bankers who really runs our Government. Michael there are plenty of issues but none that will really help our country and it's welfare will really be addressed. As a Nation we should really be fighting to keep our Sovereignty. Let the rest of the world handle there own troubles
and help if necessary. All our Senators spend too much time flying around the world, no way can they do their jobs as they should. Why not cut their pay, no one seems to address that issue.


You state many POVs (points of view), but they don't seem to address the remaining issues. Saying we shouldn't touch SS doesn't return its stolen funds. Not raising taxes still leaves a huge national debt. Keeping our armies strong costs money. Where does that come from? And if they're to stay closer to home, where should they be stationed to best serve the country? See what I mean? You state lots of POVs that simply state one side of the third rail issues and doesn't address the costs of following those paths.

You are certainly opinionated on many of the topics and I think that's great. I hope you continue this dialog - here and in other questions.

No skinny:​m=247&topic_id=393&mesg_id=393
get rid of the Central Bank called the Federal reserve bank nothing but
a bunch of private bankers who really runs our Government. This would be the quickest way to put America back on its feet financially. Put banking back into the control of the people and cut out these private bankers and their control of America, what is so surprising all those in Washington knows this and still do nothing but continue to play games with our country and yours and my and every citizen in this country and jeopardize our future. If you've got a rotten apple in the barrel remove before all the apples are rotten!!
I mention stop all our Senators quit flying to other countries using tax payers money to do so, and cutting their salaries and benefits in half
Cut Federal workers in Washington Billions could be saved, But like I stated this will never happen, Who really cares, do they?


teaching that liberalism is a mental disease.


Thanks, t. That adds much to the dialog.


sure does...


I thought it did.


And then what, trout? Lock them up to keep them from your ever-increasingly intolerant world?

And how does your answer actually address any of the issues I raised?


Quite a list!! I think opposing Israel second from the top of the list. First up would DEFINITELY be the social security system. I'd add one VERY IMPORTANT one that seems to BE a third rail -- Illegal Immigration. I noticed how it disappeared rapidly during the presidential campaign.

This is great post. I never heard the expression Third Rail. Makes perfect sense.


Thanks, Maggie.
The list is basically from the wiki site. I'm not sure illegal immigration is a third rail. Is there a party in support of it? Hispanic voters may or may not support it, but the rest of the US population supports it. I'm not sure its so much controversial as it is a problem we aren't yet solving. (Also see my comment under Mac's answer.) Aren't most US voters in agreement on stopping it?

What's your opinion of social security? Figure out how to fund it? Lower the rate? Take it away from people who have other funds in excess of X amount? Get rid of it altogether and let people deal with it? That's one of those issues that tends to polarize voters. I don't know what I'd do; my mom lives on SS and it looks like I am headed down that same path. Scary to think about it at current levels, much less lower levels.


I'm not sure either. I think that it's a hot topic, though. I believe that the government really doesn't WANT to solve the problem -- but the PEOPLE do, thus making it that Third Rail (if I understand it correctly).

Re Social Security, I do not believe that anyone 55 or so and over will see any change in their benefits. If they did, that would truly be a crime. I certainly don't think for one second that anyone ON social security will see a drop in benefits. As that would be treason. ;-) I think that the upper-limit on salary cap should be removed, that benefits will be restructured, there'll be a higher retirement age. Until the government stops running social security like Bernie Matoff ran HIS pyramid scheme, it'll always be insolvent. (I love your questions, Michael. You always make me think.)


You're certainly hitting on the reasons why it is considered a third rail. It seems to me that if you have other retirement that is in excess of some amount - say $60k for discussion purposes - you don't need cocial security, especially when you consider the thrid word we often forget to include... social security insurance. That upsets people who pay into it, but don't get to cash it out. In that way, it is the same as insurance. It's there if you need it, but not everyone needs it. I know people with a military retirement and a state retirement that also get social security. They're set, but they'd also be fine without the SS.

Third rails are fun!

Don't you think my suggestion of bring troops home from Iraq and putting them on the US-Mexico border is a good idea? If people think we are fighting terrorism, don't you think we can do the same thing more effectively at home? I know you've written about Mexico, so I would think you'd agree.


The third rail of American politics is social security...that is the classic response.


and that has been used for at least 40 years.


But we still need a solution for it, right? What should politicians do, no matter which voters it alienates?

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