Something to Think About: Top Five Issues of 2016

Isabel Giovannetti, RHStoday Editor-in-Chief

Throughout the 2016 campaigns, it has been difficult to differentiate empty arguments from policy discussion. But in a year when so many important changes are bound to occur, it’s essential that voters are informed about the issues. Here are some the issues that I think will play the biggest role on the national stage come November:

      1. National security– In light of the terrorist attacks in Europe and ISIS’s growth in the Middle East, there’s significant concern among the American people that our government doesn’t know how to address this threat. Many have criticized President Obama for lack of action in this area, so the next president will need to have a clear solution ready to present to the voters. Whether that solution ends up being carpet-bombing (I’m looking at you Ted Cruz) or diplomacy is something that the electorate will decide on the ballot.
      2. Income inequality/wage gap– Regardless of whether or not Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee, his campaign has brought the issue of income inequality to the forefront. The middle class- or what’s left of it- feels cheated, and in the coming years, wants to see economic opportunity back on a level playing field.
      3. Immigration– We all know about Donald Trump’s Wall. In a year when immigration reform was already likely to be a talked-about issue, Trump’s rhetoric has inflamed emotions on both sides. And  the candidates won’t just be talking about legislative reform or the visa program. This year has sparked a serious debate about xenophobic sentiment in the United States and what our country’s role is on a global scale.
      4. Taxes– No matter the election year, taxes are always a topic of discussion during a general election. Democrats want to increase taxes, whereas Republicans want to get rid of them. Ted Cruz has even talked about a “flat tax” plan in which everyone pays the same percentage of federal income taxes.
      5. Individual rights– With a woman as the Democratic front-runner, there is no question that, this year especially, women’s issues will be debated at length this fall. Recent setbacks in the LGBT rights movement on the state level are also likely to become a national discussion.

All five of these topics are complex, and therefore require in-depth responses from the candidates. Expect that. By November, we need to see some real policy debates. We have a big year ahead of us.