Wednesday, June 12, 2013
My Thoughts on American Government Scandals
Recently it seems like our government has been rocked by scandal after scandal. Benghazi, the IRS targeting conservative groups, the AP scandal, and now the PRISM program scandal. Do I think it is necessary for journalists to hold our government accountable for this in covering this news? Yes, of course. But to have these highly sensationalized “scandals” dominate the news media and elected officials time does not do anyone any good. With the Benghazi scandal, it’s primarily conservatives that consider it a scandal. And from my reading on the IRS scandal, while targeting conservative groups is obviously less than ethical, it seems that many who were investigated illegally applied for tax-exempt status. Honestly, how much weight can you give to someone trying to scam the government, regardless of their political bent? While I do think there needs to be journalistic coverage of the AP and PRISM data mining scandals, the current presentation of the data leaks resembles a headline about a Real Housewife cheating on husband. Maybe we could intelligently discuss where the line between personal privacy and government access should fall instead of pointing fingers and trying to create the most sensational headlines?
The reality is that my generation, those of us in our 20s, are disillusioned and distrustful of our government. In Harvard University’s annual spring poll of young Americans, they found that only 39% of younger Americans trust the president and only 18% trust Congress. And I must say, I see this attitude among my friends, and I feel it too. I am sick of a congress and journalism culture that is too busy pointing fingers at the other side to have intelligent discussions to create solutions benefitting the American people. How are we supposed to have our privacy protected? When will we see improvements in our country’s financial structure and education? What about the affordable healthcare that almost every other Western country has? We all knew that the growing digital age would bring complications to privacy and information access. But we find ourselves at the same old familiar crossfire of angry words and pointed fingers instead of thoughtful debate and innovative policies. The same Harvard poll found that 84% of young Americans agreed with the statement “Politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing.” And in the midst of another “scandal” I see my faith in the government drop even lower. These scandals are just further evidence of politics failing to meet the challenges of our time due to an inability to work together and act in the best interest of the American people.