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Having different opinions doesn’t mean we aren’t able to listen to each other

Opinion: Why Can’t We Work Together?

September 23, 2020

Moron. Idiot. Delusional. Brainwashed. Fake News. 

These are all words being used to put down, insult, and discredit people of opposing political views in the United States. With peaceful protests and riots happening all over America in wake of the death of George Floyd and shooting of Jacob Blake, as well as the novel coronavirus infecting and killing many Americans, the political climate in the U.S. is far from “united.” 

Millions have taken to social media to share their political views with others, and while the openness and freedom of the internet facilitates discussions between a wide range of people and their beliefs, its anonymity also creates an environment in which hateful words and anger run rampant and unpunished. Instead of creating productive dialogue and trying to understand the views of others, people lash out and try to bully them into submission, in hopes that the opposing side will simply go away. But the truth is, flaming each other isn’t going to get anything done, and telling someone “No” or “You’re wrong” and adding a little heart emoji at the end isn’t going to either. To make real change, we’re going to have to listen and compromise, not insult each other. 

I know, it sounds cliche. “If we all work together as a team, anything is possible!” sounds like the cheesy inspirational poster you find in a third grade classroom, right next to the one that says “Hang in There!” with a cat hanging from a branch. You know what I’m talking about. But the fact is that in the American political system it’s very difficult to get anything done if people don’t work together. You could see this in action when the GOP tried to obstruct laws under the Obama Administration; for instance, Republicans blocked a bill that would have created equal pay for men and women in 2014, according to the New York Times. In response, the Democratic Party is trying to do the same thing to President Trump. As much as senators and representatives might not like it, if they want to get something done, they have to compromise with the other side in order to make change that benefits the American people. They have to listen to each others’ point of view and make an agreement that works for everybody and their constituents. In an ideal world, elected officials decide to put aside their differences for the noble cause of helping everyone, no matter what party affiliation. Sounds great, right?

Well, at least, that’s how it’s supposed to go. The reality is that, right now, we’re too divided to even think about that. Democrats and Republicans don’t seem to agree on anything, at least anything significant, and even when they do, they disagree on how to put it into practice. That means that a lot of things that our country needs get neglected, blocked, and ignored. Heck, we can’t even pass a second coronavirus relief package because our government can’t figure out the specifics! Our two party system can’t agree on what to do concerning abortion, same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ rights, firearms, climate change, illegal immigrants, police, or pretty much anything else. Everybody is so sure that they are right and the other side is wrong that the possibility for compromise gets lost in the shuffle. And so Congress goes round and round, like a dog chasing its tail: lots of barking and yelling and running around, but nothing ever getting done. It’s unproductive, and dangerous to the 13.6 million Americans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, who are currently unemployed, many of whom were laid off due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

And this problem in Congress is indicative of a larger problem plaguing our nation right now. Politics as a whole have become so divided that it’s difficult to have a civil conversation with someone of a different opinion than you about politics. Instead, from what I’ve seen, it usually turns into a battle of insults and name calling instead of one of statistics and courtesy. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s tempting to get angry at that profile picture and username on your screen. But you need to remember that XxRobloxGamer25xX is a person too, not just some robot (usually). However, people, especially on the internet where you can be somewhat anonymous, seem to have forgotten this. Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, you name it, I guarantee that somewhere, people are at each other’s’ throats over politics. People see Donald Trump and Joe Biden trading metaphorical punches on a national stage and replicate it in forums, comment sections, and reply threads all over the internet. You could be having a peaceful discussion, and then someone says something that another person  else doesn’t agree with and BOOM, it changes from a productive conversation into a roast battle, with people insulting each others’ personal lives and equating each others’ worth as people to the political views they hold. 

We have to fix this. Political affiliation isn’t necessarily indicative of somebody’s quality as a person. I’m sure we all know people with different political views than us, but does that mean that they’re a “bad person”? Does it make them “evil’? Does it make them “stupid” or “uneducated” simply because they don’t agree with you? Is there a rule that says you can’t be friends with people of opposing views? Of course not. Judging character based on whether someone voted red or blue is absurd. That’s like getting angry at someone because they like Coca-Cola and you like Pepsi (although there is a clear right answer here).

Don’t forget that perspective plays a big role, too. Two people can look at the same information and interpret it differently just because of their background or personality: the classic “glass half empty, glass half full” scenario. If everybody agreed on everything, we would have a very easy, but also boring, life. The fact that people disagree with each other is what makes politics so fascinating in the first place! Instead of lashing out, try to understand why they think what they do and where it comes from, and be open to new ideas: maybe, instead of you convincing them, they’ll be the one convincing you. 

Now, to be clear, I do not by any means think that people should even consider any opinions/ideas that are bigoted, oppressive, or discriminatory in nature. There is absolutely no place for racism, sexism, or discrimination based on ethnicity or religion in our country, in politics or otherwise. That being said, try to be open to the other side’s point of view. Next time you find somebody with a different opinion than you, in real life or otherwise, try to see where they’re coming from and keep an open mind. Rushing to anger doesn’t help anyone, and just tears us further apart instead of coming together, which we should be doing more than ever. 

It’s a tough time for everyone, me included. We’re all feeling uncertain and scared for the future, and sometimes it’s just human instinct to lash out. Do your best, stay strong, and try to love your fellow citizens, no matter their political affiliation. If we really listen to each other and do our best to compromise, maybe, just maybe, we can start getting something done. 

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