Discontent among Americans

NEW HAVEN, Conn.–Inside Mr. Eddie’s Barber Shop a portrait of Barack Obama hangs next to Eddie Thorne’s family portrait. At 75-years-old Thorne has been in business for 47 years and remembers the how far blacks has come since the Civil Rights Movement.

“It was a tough time but we got through it,” said Thorne. “Now look who’s president.”

Thorne’s barber shop is located in the Newhallville. The 2013 Community Index Report by DataHaven, a nonprofit organization that collects and analyze economic data in New Haven, shows Newhallville is one of the lowest income neighborhoods in the city with higher rates of underperforming students, crime, poverty and unemployment.

Though Thorne said many of his clients “are working class people” his does have concerns for his nearby clients who are living on minimum wage.

“I’d like to see the government show more support in raising minimum wage,” Thorne said. “The people with money, the politicians and millionaires, don’t want minimum wage raised. Why? How can people support themselves with seven or nine dollars an hour?”

Jonathan Wharton, a political science professor at Southern, said American politicians want to fix a lot of things, such as increasing wages for the middle class. But the government can’t seem to overcome one major hurdle.

“In the last few years Congress has had a hard time communicating with each other and the White House, specifically when it comes to healthcare and budgets,” said Wharton.

Some Americans and party leaders have abided by political ideologies when it comes to important issues like gun control. Wharton said there are several political theories that suggest why this is happening, but the theory he believes contributes most to the polarization in politics is the lack of communication.

“Lawmakers don’t know each other anymore,” said Wharton. “Back then they had lunch together, played golf together, they socialized together. If they don’t have a basis of breaking bread with each other then, it seems, they would be more focused on what they want rather than what could be a mutual benefit.”

Sophia Didiano, freshman social work major said she thinks the government should do more in helping those who are in poverty and criticized the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“I think the health of those in poverty is a big problem,” said Didiano. “The Affordable Care Act was a good idea but I don’t think they went about it the right way, especially that fact that you get penalized for not having health insurance.”

Last semester for INQ 101 she took a quiz that questioned her stances on certain political issues. Based on her answers the test revealed she is more politically aligned with Hillary Clinton, but she knew that before her semester started.

“My grandma was really excited when she heard Hillary won the election in Iowa and so was I,” said Didiano. “My whole family loves Hillary and I think their beliefs align with hers.”

Family and friends can have a major influence over how one views politics. Wharton describes this as political socialization, but emphasizes the importance of listening and understanding opposing opinions.

Many were offended by Donald Trump’s announcement for a ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. following the San Bernardino shooting last December. Steve Laviolette, a hydraulics technician for Sikorsky Aircraft, said he thought Trump made sense.

“Trump is saying ‘let’s take our time and think things through’ and I think that’s a legitimate response especially after we saw that terrorist attack in California,” said Laviolette.

The possible influx of Syrian refugees and illegal immigrants entering the United States has been a growing concern for Laviolette and he said he doesn’t believe the government will take the appropriate measures to keep the country safe because money influences politics.

“Political contributions are the most corrupt thing in government,” said Laviolette. “Bill Clinton came to Bridgeport and charged people $20,000 to shake his hand in support of Hillary.”

The Pew Research Center published a study in 2015 that measured how much Americans trust the government. In the span of three months 6,000 interviews were conducted and only 19 percent said they trust the government and 74 percent say most elected officials put their own interests ahead of the country’s.

Wharton said government and the people need to work together if we want a solution to economic, social and political issues.

“Another problem is people aren’t making these issues important.  People are frustrated and angry but don’t want to do something about it,” said Wharton. “We as voters don’t take the time to understand these issues. But the thing is it requires a lot of time to understand. You have to read into the issues, listen to the other side of an argument, debate them and find consensus.”