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Problem solving and science: How to solve the problem of American politics

To call the Trump administration “a basket of uncertainties,” as Hillary Clinton did during the 2016 election campaign, is an understatement. Some are worried about the administration’s policies to severely cut back on the issuing of U.S. visas. Others are appalled by Trump’s rhetoric targeting women and minorities. But the most threatening stance of the Trump’s administration are its dismissal of established facts. It seems that the last tether grounding all sanity in this country’s political system is slowly being cut. This recent movement, to question the truth of the media and citizens’ own opinions, underlines America’s endemic issue with truth, efficiency and problem solving in the political arena.

Trump’s crime is further compounding an issue, which has been as prevalent in American politics as special interest groups; health care. The Obama administration managed to push a more progressive agenda, rework the healthcare system and demonstrate strong diplomacy in foreign affairs.

But common sense was lacking in many areas of the Obama administration and the government in which he worked. The problems that the former president, Barack Obama, faced in advancing his agenda were found in Congress. Many of his actions were blocked by a partisan wall. Obstructionism — an issue that extends beyond the scope of simple funding measures — is the embodiment of the issue.

The disconnect that exists between policy and reality — apparent now because of the spread of “alternative facts” — is one of the biggest inherent determinants to functional politics in America. How can we change this? How does the political establishment evolve from within?

The answer is education.

The solution is to respect the facts. To that end, teach politicians not in opinion, agenda or bias, but in facts. Science, engineering — these should be the most commonly held degrees of politicians, who in an ideal world would then go on to a master’s program in public policy or similar civil service programs. Learning first as a scientist instills the necessity of methodology, optimization and innovation in problem solving — the skill that many politicians should have but somehow lack. Who’s to blame them?

As an undergraduate studying political science, I know that the majority of course work is theoretical and rarely dips into application except in upper level seminars. Dealing so much in methods of interpretation, coupled with a focus on understanding all prevalent viewpoints of the field, detracts from the actual goal of politics, which is maintaining a well lubricated machine to legislate, enforce laws and protect.

University science programs, on the other hand, take observation as the most important aspect of the learning process. Only after the evaluation of empirical evidence is a theory extrapolated. Even then, it must undergo intense criticism before it is generally accepted by the community.

Scientists are taught to first observe and then utilize realistic methodologies to solve problems. They are usually very successful in politics. Some of the most successful world leaders, such as U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, receiving education in engineering, medicine, physics, mathematics, computer science and chemistry. Often they know how to effectively manage large institutions and lead individuals toward a common goal.

This is not to say that scientific backgrounds do not provide a barrier to other issues which halt progress — corruption and bureaucracy to name two. But the issues we have faced with the most recent administration, and that are likely to bash us over the head with the Trump administration are fixable, if we change the very face of politics itself. A streamlined, polished and goal-oriented procedure should be the ideal we strive for. Educate people in beliefs and they will divide, but educate them in problem solving and progress is made.

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