Turning of the New Year: U.S. going into 2019
In the United States, 2019 marks the genesis of unprecedented change in Congress in the wake of the 2018 midterm elections. The House of Representatives is seeing an influx of female and young representatives. Many of the new politicians coming in are also citizens of color, including representation for Native Americans; a long overdue perspective in the land that was rightfully their home. This internal shake-up of the political landscape also comes during one of the longest government shutdowns to date; one that comes from a heated debate surrounding a potential border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. In addition to this, the Mueller probe into the Trump administration is still in progress. The beginning of 2019 is the intersection of issues both old and new.
What does 2019 have in store for the U.S.
In light of these political crossroads faced by Americans, I assembled a trusted think-tank of my peers to sit down and discuss what this new year might bring. We share over a decade of friendship and consider ourselves family. Like all families, we have had our fair share of political debates and disputes. Due to this, I found their insight perfect for evaluating what this new year may bring. The questions I posed to the group asked for their predictions for 2019, their hopes, and whether or not we may see a healing of the divide within our nation. These questions also touched on the government shutdown, the wall, new congressional representatives, and the Mueller investigation.
Shutdown and “the wall”
In regards to the shutdown, the group unanimously agreed that steps need to be taken to end it. With many federal employees without pay until the shutdown ceases, it is imperative for the stalemate to end. One in the group even noted that the gridlock will only get worse as we move closer to 2020, citing the division of power between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House will make moving forward difficult while also stating how it will serve to increase the divide within the nation. “With the split in power between the two houses of Congress, gridlock will be the new name of the game,” he stated, “There will be more bickering and finger pointing. The nation will only continue to get more divided leading up to the 2020 elections…”
Talk of the shutdown inevitably led to discussion of the border wall with one member citing the historical ineffectiveness of literal walls between nations. “Walls of this scale do not work. We can look at history for examples and how badly this concept failed: Hadrian’s Wall, The Great Wall of China, and the Berlin Wall.” This member of the group also noted that border security is necessary, but the wall is not the proper course of action and use of funds.
A fair point was also raised by a member of the group, siting that out of the approximate $4.4 trillion 2019 federal budget, $5 billion for a wall is seemingly inconsequential when compared to the overall spending. This sheds some light on the political debate as a whole, showing it to be an ideological divide more than it is a financial one.
It is a debate that comes down to financial allocation of taxpayer dollars and the message a literal wall sends to the rest of the world. One member offered a compromise, stating that a wall could help some with border security, but if funds were to be allocated for a physical barrier, we should also review and update the citizenship process.
The Mueller investigation
When discussion touched on the Mueller investigation, two members of the group agreed that it is unlikely to end anytime soon, citing the six-month extension that was just granted, while another believed the investigation will ultimately conclude within the year. Both points are likely and time will tell where the investigation will lead. “It’s [the Mueller investigation] just going to keep going until someone, I’m not even sure who at this point, is satisfied,” one member began before adding a humorous point, “but the fact that people are getting picked off for crimes as a result of it is great. Because rich powerful white people getting locked up is soul-soothing to me.” Ideally, it would be beneficial for the investigation to conclude within the year and offer some closure and results to move forward with.
New congressional representatives
This led to the discussion of the new congressional representatives who took office this year. The same member stated, “As far as this new class in Congress, I’m loving it. I’m hoping these younger women of color will give more of a voice to people who get looked over; because younger people in Congress is something I have always wanted.” He also cited that a diverse Congress is crucial in having a truly representative government. Ultimately, these new members of Congress will serve as a wind of change for the nation. One that will hopefully bring better and brighter things for our nation’s future.
Moving forward amidst national divide
Finally, our discussion delved deeper into the political divide in the nation and how we ought to move forward. As with the discussion over the wall, two members of the group agreed that the divide will inevitably get worse before it gets better, especially in the face of the 2020 presidential bid. Another member cited the 2016 election as evidence of how presidential races divide the nation ideologically. Someone else pointed out that the divide is not as severe as we are led to believe by most American media outlets. Another agreed with this point, adding that exacerbating such division is a tactic implemented to increase profits. Ultimately, the group agreed that 2019 will be an interesting year for the U.S. and the issues that face our nation.
Hopes for 2019
In discussing hopes for what lies ahead in 2019, several of them agreed that it is important not to get our expectations up, but that there are things to be hopeful for. Some hope to see the U.S. put aside political disputes to work together for the betterment of the nation.
A statement from one member truly stuck with me well after the conclusion of our talk: “I hope we can finally grow as a nation – past fear – past uncertainty. At one time we were the home of the brave. We should embrace that and face the future with courage and intelligence, not fear and ignorance. I hope we take steps to retake our position on the world stage as a leader in creating the future.”
Going forward into 2019, we as a nation need to put aside our ignorance and our fear; namely, the fear and ignorance in the face of change. Change is the only constant in our world. If we do not learn to adapt and progress, we will inevitably suffer as a result. To survive we must be able to bend with the roaring winds of time, or we will be broken in their wake. We must reclaim our intelligence and our compassion to make this country, and this world, a better place for all.