The next presidential election will present the American voters with the chance to decide a number of very important issues. The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will be on the opposite sides of whether or not Supreme Court justices to be appointed in the coming years affirm the Citizen’s United decision, allowing an unlimited flow of private donations into the electoral system, or overturn it.

The Republican candidate will be pledged to undo the financial reforms we adopted in 2010, including the independent Consumer Protection Bureau, and strict restrictions on derivative trading, while the Democratic candidate will be for strengthening these rules.

The Republican candidate will almost certainly be opposed to any U.S. government action to retard climate change, while the Democratic candidate will be supportive of the initiatives President Obama has taken, and more as time progresses.

With the exception of Rand Paul, although his position on this is evolving, the Republican candidate almost certainly will be for greater American military involvement in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, while the Democratic candidate will be supportive of the more restrained policy that Obama has been following.

The Democratic candidate will build on the Affordable Care Act and seek to improve the extent to which federal policy delivers health care broadly, and at an affordable rate. The Republican candidate will be for substantial rollbacks in that legislation – for example, ending the extension of Medicaid in the states.

And while both candidates will agree that economic inequality in America has become excessive, the Democratic candidate will be supportive of public policies that address the issue, while the Republicans will insist that it simply be left to the workings of the marketplace.

Unfortunately, regular consumers of much of the news will not hear, see or read much discussion of this. On my recent book tour, which took me to two dozen cities across the country, one frequent question I was asked was what we can do to give people an incentive to vote, especially younger voters. Often that question was preceded by a complaint that there were no real differences between the parties.

To the absolute contrary, the differences between the Democratic and Republican parties have never been sharper. Unfortunately, much of the coverage is based on the “horse race”: the contest for the nomination. On the Republican side, this means constant rehashing of the potential strengths of the various candidates seeking the nomination. We will be fed endless speculation on which if any candidate will be able to consolidate the most conservative elements in the primary; whether the Republican establishment will settle on one candidate and whether anyone other than themselves will care if they do; and where the biggest donors will put their money, i.e. on one candidate from each faction or widely spread. On the Democratic side, the media will be lamenting the fact that there does not appear to be much of a horse race, and in the absence of a serious contest to write about, with Hillary Clinton at this point well in the lead over any potential challenger, the media will constitute itself as her opponent.

To be fair, the horse race is not the only topic of discussion in their pages, print or electronic. I have read a great deal about various of the candidates in the past month, but the sad fact is that far too little about this has been about the views of the various candidates on the relevant issues. Over the past few weeks, I have read about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s allergy to dogs. I have also skimmed a very long article about the debate tactics Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas employed when he was a Princeton undergraduate. And I compose this column just after putting aside a very specific article about what Jeb Bush eats – he is on a diet, The New York Times took pains to note, distinguishing him from his more naturally slender father and brother.

I continue to hope that more serious subject matter will appear – Walker’s severe allergy to labor unions seems to be far more relevant than his allergy to dogs, and I found myself in unexpected sympathy with Cruz after reading those bits of the New York Times article that were snarkily critical of his actions as a 20-year-old college debater.

The treatment of Clinton similarly deprives voters of the sort of substantive information they should be given in preparation in giving the choice of which candidate to support. The most egregious example of this came a week ago, when I read a headline that said her appointment of Gary Gensler, former chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, as her campaign finance director was sending a “signal” about her intentions. As I glanced at the article, I was encouraged, as a supporter of Clinton, that the article would be very positive about her because Gensler had been a key player in our banking reform bill.

To my dismay, the brunt of the article appeared to be that he had, while chairman of the commission – or maybe three or six or eight times – used the wrong email. Having worked with him very closely throughout that period and having observed his consistent toughness on behalf of regulation, both in the legislative drafting and in the administration, I was unaware that he had ever used an inappropriate email, and I can certify that nothing negative about his emails ever surfaced.

I understand the desire of journalist for “scoops,” but novelty should not trump substance. On virtually every important public policy issue there will be differences between the presidential candidates of the two parties next year. I hope that my friends in the media – of which I may have fewer after this column – will make sure that these are fully presented to the voters, and most importantly, to those who may not be voters unless they are made aware of this set of issues.

Barney Frank is a retired congressman and the author of landmark legislation. He divides his time between Maine and Massachusetts.

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