As the sun set on 2018 and rose on 2019, America unfortunately did not solve all its issues overnight. In this edition of ‘Rocket Roundtable’, members of the McNicholas community discuss their opinions on what they consider the most pressing issues facing America in this new year.
With President Trump entering the back half of his first term in office and the new 116th Congress sworn in joining many familiar faces, there is sure to be no shortage of drama from the Oval Office to Capitol Hill. The majority of the American public, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data as of Jan. 23, disapprove of the work of both the President and Congress. While about 40% of Americans approve of Trump, only 23% feel the same about Congress as a whole. During this increasingly polarized time, Rockets voiced their concerns about topics that lawmakers must act on in 2019.
Senior Elyse Thaman sees the country’s educational system as the area most in need of improvement. “Everyone has all these great ideas to fix the educational system but nothing ever changes, or they just have bad ideas. There’s a lot of science within the educational system that just gets ignored, such as school should be starting later,” Thaman said. Right behind fixing the educational system, Thaman sees military spending as a failure of government that needs immediate attention. “It is disproportionately the thing we spend the most money on. I think we should fix our own issues before we look to fix other countries’ issues,” Thaman said.
Social Studies Department Chair Pat Stricker sees the opioid addiction/drug problem and immigration as the problems most urgently in need of being addressed and solved. “I would say that the opioid addiction problem crisis in the United States is the most pressing issue because other potential issues or problems aren’t necessarily putting anybody in harm’s way immediately, whereas death from drug addiction occurs on a daily basis,” Stricker said.
Theology teacher and Director of Campus Ministry Jeff Hutchinson-Smyth asked his H Bell Social Justice class what they deem the “Biggest Challenges Our Country Will Face in 2019.” He left the answer space blank so students could fill in their own responses. Issues that garnered multiple mentions included the immigration crisis, dealing with disagreements and polarization/inability to compromise, and peoples’ sensitivity to everything.
It is clear that there is much for our leaders to wrestle with in the coming months. It is how they handle these pressing issues that will determine whether or not Americans become any less pessimistic about their elected officials’ leadership abilities.