When I watch elected officials and political pundits from across the nation comment on issues facing Americans today, I become convinced that we, as Americans, have selective amnesia.
From national issues such as immigration or welfare reform, to state issues like the HOPE Scholarship and education reform, I witness people take a position and more often than not refuse to acknowledge other viewpoints. This only hurts the process of creating legislation that can effectively address these issues.
Before someone refers to welfare programs as handouts or takes a “pro-family” or pro-life position in regard to gay marriage and abortion, one should remember the history and underlying problems to these issues. For example, is there irony in the fact that some of the most conservative, abstinence professing, pro-life states in the South have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation? Some would answer with a resounding “yes”, but I tend to focus more on why these unwanted pregnancies occur.
When people ask me about my thoughts on gay marriage and whether I believe it’s a civil right, I think of how it was only a mere 45 years ago when the state of Virginia did not allow interracial marriages. This might sound absurd or distant to our generation, but it probably sounds very real to our parents and grandparents.
We also forget who actually funds the HOPE Scholarship. I’m far from being an expert on the subject, but I don’t see many upper-class Georgians preoccupying themselves with buying Georgia Lottery tickets every week. Yet, with the new changes to HOPE, this is exactly who benefits from the scholarship the most–partly due to our broken public education system. Let’s stop forgetting the how, why and history behind our issues and focus on providing viable solutions.
Graduate student, Public Administration