Let’s talk about politics. There is a lot to address in recent events; the debate surrounding tighter gun restrictions, the threat of another government shutdown, and the uncertainty of DACA’s future. The list could go on, really, and while these topics are certainly pressing for any American concerned about the direction of the country, I believe that within our political system lies a larger issue.
We seem to have developed an instinct of pointing the finger to the ‘other side’- blaming others for any social or political mess that strikes our country. This is especially accurate for the January 2018 partial government shutdown, when the Republicans blamed Democrats for not getting enough votes for the short term bill to fund the government. And we see this in just about every other event that strikes our nation. We have become too concerned with partisanship, and not concerned enough about the actual issues at hand.
It is time to put party ideology aside and approach the problems that affect our whole country, not just one group over another.
Americans use labels such as “Democrat” or “Republican”, and anything in between, to identify themselves within an ideological group. This can be productive, as people with similar national interests are able to work together and pursue the same platform, however the expectations and generalizations that have grown to each label has begun to isolate people.
This system creates a stigma that those who support a specific party must agree with all of the values of that specific party. And when an individual doesn’t, there is something wrong. This also works conversely. Not all Republicans are pro-life, just like not all Democrats are pro-immigration.
Increasingly, we have molded stereotypes over political groups in America, and it has become quite nasty. I noticed this in the halls when two students were talking about someone else and how surprised they were that this person identified politically. They didn’t see it coming, they said, and said they couldn’t look at them the same anymore.
The same thing can be witnessed online. The Teenage Republicans Club at Mason attended the Pro-Life March in D.C. last January and shared photos from their outing on Instagram. Within hours, other students left comments with different reactions- many were condemning for taking part in such an event. But does their belief in such a cause affect them in anyway? If only we could respect other people’s beliefs and individual rights to hold them. Social media can be a vicious tool in the political world if we let it.
Let’s use social media productively. Let’s collaborate with each other and hold educated conversations. Let’s spread ideas and speak hopefully about change for our country
Sometimes it’s simply how we talk about things. When discussing an issue, some make the common mistake of referring to other parties as the ‘bad guys’. This is enhanced through language. In our own political forum held during the last Mustang Rodeo, topics such as government funded higher education and the practice of citing the Pledge of Allegiance in school were debated, and it got very partisan, very quickly. Students argued for or against specific topics, but claimed a political side. This took away from the actual content of the debate, and immediately turned it into a rivalry.
The variety of differing political groups in the United States does not exist to host rivalry showdowns- that is what reality TV shows are for. The United States is built on equality and freedom of speech, and because of the diversity of views within our country, we are blessed with the opportunity to listen to all opinions and consider multiple solutions. So let’s do that. Enough of this bad guy/good guy game. Let’s listen to each other and talk to each other like mature American citizens.
Identifying oneself with a specific party also creates this unspoken pressure of siding with their own party in everything. Some voters might lean towards a certain candidate simply because they identify themselves within the same political party- not because they particularly agree with their platform.
I’d be interested in seeing how a blind election would play out in the future; one where the only thing that matters is made public: the candidate’s political platform. No more statistics or media-heavy stories about something a candidate did in high school. The rest, appearance; racial and social background; and political affiliation; would be set aside so that the focus is on his or her policies- the only thing that really matters.
People are more than the political label they identify with. The terms “conservative” and “liberal” or “Democrat” and Republican” are way too general to classify a human’s beliefs and morals, yet they cause so much controversy in the school and work setting alike.
Let’s forget about these invisible lines we’ve drawn around ourselves for a little bit and tackle these national issues once and for all, for the sake of our own country. We’re all American after all.
(GMHS Class of '18; Lasso Staff 2014-18)
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