Congressman Steve Knight visited College of the Canyons Monday afternoon to respond to political science students’ questions and concerns about the state and federal government.
About 30 students gathered to get answers from the representative, many of which were about healthcare, education, immigration and President Trump.
Among many topics, Knight shared his experiences in the military, his high school math class and the novel he is currently writing.
Moderated by COC Political Science Department Chair David Andrus, the event began by asking Knight about his feelings about the national political climate.
“Nothing is really going on in the country right now,” Knight joked.
Andrus asked Knight what he thought about Trump’s behavior, adding that if the two of them “spoke the way the president did, they would not get away with it.”
Knight said upwards of 60 to 70 percent of new administrations have problems as appointments are made, but said he hopes the issues will be resolved soon.
“I’m responsible for what I say, and you’re responsible for what you say,” Knight said. “I’d like for President Trump to get through this rockiness fast.”
As for Trump’s frequent Twitter use, Knight said he does not care for social media and thinks there is an appropriate time to use or not use it. For Knight, he said “a day without tweeting is a great day.”
“He’s the leader of the country and the free world, and he has to understand that,” Knight said. “He needs to get that shared responsibility. I wish he would get past that.”
On the “fake news” front, Knight said he encourages critical thinking when consuming journalism, but thinks the media has an important role to play. Knight said he reads 10 news outlets a day that spread across the political spectrum.
“I would ask you to read articles with your brain,” Knight said. “You can question the press, but they are a valuable piece in American society.”
Several attendees said they were veterans, and two asked Knight questions about the Department of Veterans Affairs. Knight said veterans are his top priority and said he thinks the VA has lost their vision and should be solving problems.
“There’s got to be a lot more done with the VA,” Knight said. “We need to have a better choice program. The VA is trying to justify their existence instead of fixing it.”
College of the Canyons geography major Heather Wilson is a veteran and said she attended the forum to sort out a personal issue in regards to getting veteran services.
“I thought coming here I would get help, and it looks like I’ll get the help I need,” Wilson said.
In regard to immigration reform, Andrus asked Knight if he thought there may be times when the enforcement of certain laws can be counterproductive if not approached correctly. Knight then made a connection to Trump’s idea to build a wall along the Mexican border.
“This is one of the most difficult issues in the country,” Knight said. “I don’t think we can get a policy we can all agree on.”
After having gone through the process with his wife to get her citizenship, Knight said he understood how difficult immigrating into the country is.
Attendee Muhammad Qayum, a COC political science major, asked Knight about Trump using terms like “radical Islam.” Knight said he does not like to use that kind of terminology and would rather refer to terrorists as terrorists.
“It’s interesting when a president and his closest advisors don’t agree,” Qayum said. “I wanted to know how the congressman and congress in general see that.”
Additionally, Knight said he has found many people in the American military to be compassionate and strong.
“The fact that we can build relationships is one of the best things our military does,” Knight said. “I think we need to be a role model. We always need to be strong. Our connection to other countries is the best thing we can do.”
One attendee asked Knight about his thoughts on student involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, to which Knight said more accomplishments shown in those professions will draw students to those fields.
“Success is the only way to get more people involved,” Knight said. “People see it, they like it, they want to be part of it. It’s going to fire people up to become scientists.
Knight also noted that he believes arts and music should always be a part of schools, he reiterated he is against Common Core and STAR testing and said he believes districts should have control of their schools.
In anticipation of the release of the new Republican healthcare plan, Knight addressed what he thought the benefits and drawbacks of both the new plan and the Affordable Care Act are.
Knight said he thinks there are good things about the ACA, such as coverage for those with preexisting conditions and people under 26 staying on their parents’ healthcare plans, though he said many other conservative groups don’t like it when he says that.
“The bad thing is, we don’t know how we’re going to pay for this (new plan) and sustain it for years,” Knight said of the new healthcare plan. “In the Republican plan, I think it’s way better.”
As voters evaluate how they feel about the plan, Knight urges them to look at how the plan works for the entire country, and not just their own personal situation.
On Twitter as @ginaender