Today’s 3 Critical Social Issues

Today’s most critical social issues influence elections, divide neighbors, and prompt lengthy op-ed articles in our nation’s prestigious news publications. Political leaders from local, state, and national levels are tasked with addressing these issues and finding equitable solutions.

Race Relations to Be a Divisive Issue

Image via Flickr by Dorret_8

Image via Flickr by Dorret

A May 2015 poll conducted jointly by CBS News and the New York Times revealed that 61 percent of Americans believe that race relations in the United States have deteriorated. This is the highest percentage of respondents to assert that belief since the early ’90s.

Several high-profile deaths of African-American men at the hands of white police officers have fueled the controversies surrounding race relations, and the races are divided in their perceptions. For example, the CBS poll found that nearly 80 percent of African-Americans believe that a black person is more likely to face deadly force from police officers than white people, but only 53 percent of white respondents feel the same way.

As tension over race relations increases, however, leaders around the country have stepped up to increase diversity, improve relations, and unite all races in common causes. For example, in Waukegan, Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reports that the mayor has appointed five black leaders to a Citizens for Progress Committee, which is designed to advise city officials on issues of diversity.

Second Amendment Views Vary Widely Across the Political Spectrum

Much of the decline in race relations stems from violence, which also inspires a heated debate between citizens and politicians about gun control. Writing for Gallup, Art Swift identifies several conflicting views on the second amendment, which range from the ease with which Americans can buy guns to the laws governing concealed-carry permits.

President Obama created a 23-point initiative to address gun control issues in the U.S. It includes several changes to the way in which people purchase guns, including requiring background checks and tightening gun trafficking laws. Tomorrow’s leaders who have Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) degrees can have a tremendous impact on gun control in this country. They can initiate policies that help protect citizens while still preserving second-amendment rights.

Income Inequality Polarizes Americans While Shrinking the Middle Class

Issues like race relations and gun control also contribute to the debate over income inequality. The income inequality issues in the U.S. are so multi-faceted that leaders often struggle to identify the causes. Veteran journalist Eduardo Porter, writing for the New York Times, cites several solutions for the widening income gap between the rich and everyone else, such as promoting educational opportunities for the poor and finding ways to decrease incarceration rates.

Political leaders are joining forces to fight income inequality, homelessness, and other poverty-related issues. For instance, the Borgen Project unites former and current world leaders in the fight against poverty. The organization’s members include ministers of state, humanitarians, and state department employees.

Each of these social issues contributes to the current political climate, and tomorrow’s leaders will have a direct impact on how they evolve in the future.

For more information please visit University of Southern California’s Master of Public Administration Online program.