In today’s age, it seems like certain issues get more press coverage and attention than other issues. Take for example this past week when the “gay rights” topic was at the headline of every newspaper, magazine, and television news show. It was one of the only topics that was widely discussed via social media, blogs, and websites, making the issue of “gay rights” and equality go viral. However, at the same time North Korea was making blatant threats toward America with their missile launchers on the move. But which story got more press? Gay rights. Which issue is more important and more pressing to American lives? The issue with North Korea.
Another example of social issues getting in the way of more pressing issues is with the gun rights debate that started after the Sandy Hook school shooting in December. For over four months the National Rifle Association, the Democrats, and the Republicans have been after one another for what? Adding more regulations on guns? During this same time there were few days left before the Sequester was going to go in effect. But Americans only wanted to argue about guns and plead with their elected officials for more gun control or less gun control. The Budget Control Act that was signed by President Obama in 2011 outlined clearly that if congress didn’t cut the budget by $1.2 trillion by the specific date set by congress (January 1, 2013), these automatic spending cuts would go into effect—leading to sequestration. With the Sequester brought cuts to military, health care, education, law enforcement, disaster relief, unemployment benefits and more. This bill has been alive and looming since 2011, yet many Americans just heard about it in March. The fiscal cliff actually affected Americans’ lives unlike the gun control discourse that took place over the four-month period. Yes, mourning the Sandy Hook tragedy was appropriate. But, dedicating all of Congress’ time and effort to arguing on the floor about guns was an inappropriate use of time when the pending fiscal cliff was so near.
But why can’t the American public care about any other issues than social issues? Social issues seem to be the dividing lines for most people when choosing a political party and when voting on issues. The one thing guaranteed about social issues is that they will always be around. They will always divide our country. There will always be a problem with equality—whether it be racial, gender, sex, religious—etc. The argument for gun rights, abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty will always be there whether we address it today or tomorrow. However, there are problems that are facing America that shouldn’t be pushed off another day. There are issues that the American public should become aware of and take a stance on. We should be prioritizing the crises with the debt, unemployment, and the economy before we even think about prioritizing social issues. Americans need to get their priorities in check–otherwise, our lives may be in danger.