AMERICAN NOVELIST THOMAS PYNCHON once said “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” Might this observation apply to the current field of 2020 presidential candidates?

The wannabe presidents are doing and saying a lot of crazy things in an effort to garner media and potential voter attention. The problem is, when these long-shot candidates say these preposterous things, they often do their nomination hopes more harm than good.

They say they just want to start a conversation. They are usually pandering to a particular crowd, hoping for a spark that gets them noticed. But when their ideas are impractical and have no chance of advancing, they flame out or brand themselves as not serious options.

Some of those lightning rod issues are climate change, punitive tax increases, inequality, free health care, free college, reparations, eliminating the electoral college, expanding the U.S. Supreme Court, allowing 16 year olds to vote and allowing convicts in prison the right to vote.

They want to guarantee jobs and income to people whether they work or not, embrace socialism, want to eliminate all fossil fuels, open our borders to anyone and everyone, legalize hard drugs and confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens. They also want the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico made states which would result in four additional Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

One candidate, John Hickenlooper, a former Colorado governor, is one of the 25 democratic presidential candidates. He has virtually no chance of being a top 10 candidate, but some of his opinions and ideas show some reasonable thought and merit.

Hickenlooper is a moderate which makes him stand out from his far-left, liberal socialist brethren. He admonished them and said “talk of massive deregulation and socialism ruins the economic system that allows America to flourish. These radical ideas would destroy capitalism.”

He said capitalism is the only economic system that can support a strong middle class, a growing economy and innovative entrepreneurs leading to global technological advancements. He acknowledged, for too many Americans, capitalism simply isn’t working.

To save capitalism, the government has to adjust it. Even with recent employment gains, the real average wage will only buy you about as much as it did in the mid-1970s. It isn’t fair for corporate executives to make $20 million a year, while rank and file workers earn $15 an hour and struggle to survive.

It’s great for companies to make huge profits. But it isn’t right when middle-class workers are threatened with job losses to robots and technology advances. Hickenlooper wants more done to offer training to give workers skills to survive the coming revolution.

More than 65% of Americans more than 25 years old don’t have four-year degrees. Hickenlooper would make community college free for those who can’t afford it, and expand apprenticeships and skills training programs. That makes more sense than the calls for free public college made by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

He said a $15 minimum wage is reasonable to revitalize capitalism. The government has to ensure that hard work pays. If a man or woman truly works hard, they should not live in poverty. America is better than that.

Regarding the U.S. health-care crisis, there needs to be a way to provide universal coverage, reduce costs, reduce prescription costs and establish health insurance portability. He said we can’t afford the Sanders Medicare for All scheme, but it has some merits. We have to make tough choices.

More than 150 million Americans have private coverage through their employers and the majority of people are satisfied with the coverage they have. It would be a fierce and needless battle to take that away from them, he said.

Hickenlooper would give the uninsured a public option by allowing them to buy into a plan like Medicare. It would not be free or cheap. After all, the current Medicare system everyone loves is going broke in the next decade.

There will always be a percentage of people who cannot or will not be able to afford to pay for any health-care coverage. The fortunate among us will need to provide for them. It is often cheaper to catch medical problems early on than to wait until the medical problem becomes critical.

Hickenlooper said capitalism must flourish in America, but it is broken as it is today and needs to be fixed before it is too late. Otherwise, disgruntled and desperate Americans will flirt with the false allure of socialism. We can’t allow that to happen.

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THROUGH YEARS of war and peace, prosperity and depression, protest and unity, our nation’s flag has prevailed as a symbol of freedom and independence to millions of Americans. Millions of proud Americans fly or display the flag in front of their homes every day.

This week, Friday, June 14, America will commemorate Flag Day just as it has each year since 1950. The first Flag Day was observed in 1916.

The U.S. flag is unique in its universal recognition as a symbol of national independence, individual liberty, idealism and patriotism. It embodies our nation’s proud history and symbolizes the hope we hold for the future.

Generations of patriots, military and civilian, have given their lives to keep our flag flying over a free, strong and independent nation. It’s only fitting that we set aside a day to honor the symbol that has been our rallying point and emblem for nearly as long as America has existed.

As Flag Day approaches this year, I encourage you to display your American flag and to take a moment to remember all of the reasons why, after more than 240 years of service, we still look to it as a symbol of one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.