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Contemporary Political Issues: Global & Domestic

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education Administration.

There is no shortage of challenging and controversial global and domestic political issues facing the United States. In this lesson, we'll discuss a few of the issues that captivate the attention and focus of political leaders.

Global Political Issues

As physical borders between nations become less meaningful and both personal and commercial interests become more globalized, international political issues become more common and more complex. Some nations struggle with maintaining their historical economic and social structure in the face of the spreading Western culture and democracy. Others join the world economy and must establish themselves as a player in the era of global trade.

Rogue States and Terrorism

The primary global political issue facing every nation in the world is the problem of rogue states and terrorism. To preserve cultural, religious, or political ideologies, some nations and groups in the world have taken a firm, and sometimes violent, stance against the global community. The three nations most often cited as rogue nations include North Korea, Iran, and Syria. The governments of these countries are actively involved in developing nuclear and/or chemical weapons, either as a deterrent against other countries or to increase their influence on the world stage.

Along with these rogue nations, ideological extreme groups present a terrorist threat to many parts of the Western world, as well as their own countries if the governments of those countries do anything to support the Western world. Organizations like ISIS, primarily based on Iraq and Syria, spread terror by conducting organized attacks on civilians throughout the world.

Trade

While rogue states and terrorism present a physical threat, issues regarding international trade present both an economic opportunity and threat. While globalization has opened markets to companies around the world, it has also increased competition. Sometimes, this competition threatens the domestic economy of certain nations, creating tension between that nation and its trade partners.

A good example of this tension is the trade relationship between the United States and China. With over 1.4 billion people in China, companies in the United States have access to a huge number of new consumers. But, in exchange for letting those companies compete in China, the U.S. needs to let Chinese companies compete.

This can cause conflict, for example, when Chinese steel manufacturers can sell their product cheaper in the U.S. than U.S. steel companies. So, for other American companies to have access to Chinese consumers, the U.S. basically has to agree to let China hurt U.S. steel companies. Few governments want to be in the business of picking winners and losers in their economy.

Domestic Political Issues

As if the threat of terrorism and the complexity of international trade isn't enough, there are a number of domestic political issues causing controversy in the United States. Sometimes, conservatives and liberals disagree on the answer to the problem, while other times they agree on the answer but disagree on how to get the answer.

Healthcare

With the cost of healthcare increasing much faster than the rate of inflation and the rate of personal income growth, figuring out how to make sure Americans have access to adequate healthcare has been a primary political issue since 1990. The most significant change to the U.S. healthcare system came in 2010 with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to ACA or Obamacare, since it was championed by and passed under President Obama.

The ACA made a number of changes to U.S. regulations over healthcare, including requiring insurance companies to allow dependents to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26 and forbids them from refusing to insure someone because of preexisting conditions. It also put in place an individual mandate, meaning that everyone in the U.S. had to have health insurance, or else they were fined by the IRS. Finally, it required states to create health insurance exchanges where consumers could compare and shop for health insurance.

Healthcare is a complex topic and while the ACA improved access for many Americans, it was not the perfect fix. Improvements need to be made and how to make these improvements remains a controversial political issue. Some politicians want to get rid of the ACA and start over, while others believe incremental solutions are possible. Because of the importance of figuring out this issue, healthcare will remain an important domestic issue for a long time.

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