It is no secret that the political climate today in the US is very tense. Barely anything is being done in Congress due to overwhelming party loyalty, and a lack of willingness to compromise. As a result, the American people get screwed over. It seems that as political animosity, unfortunately, becomes more prevalent, the American people are forced to pay for it.
This may come as a shock, but the general American public is not as polar as Washington D.C. In fact, according to Gallup, about 34% of Americans today are Moderates . Even though this is a plurality and not a majority, this is still a significant portion of the U.S. population. However, the much of the general public has become more polar in their political views. In fact, today, more people are consistently Conservative and consistently Liberal than ever before. This information is not meant to come across as discouraging. In my opinion, the shifting views aren’t the problem as politics is dynamic; political polarization is.
The thing is, those who identify extremely with either side are often the loudest and most passionate. Because of this, candidates for political positions alter their message to adhere to them, thus becoming more polar. Unfortunately for Moderates, this means that they have to choose the “lesser of two evils” and vote for someone whose views don’t exactly align with theirs. It is my opinion that Moderates either choose to settle for someone they’re not happy with, or not vote at all. I see this as a very dire problem, because how can this country efficiently run as a democracy if everyone’s views are not being adequately represented?
Another issue in today’s stifling political climate has less to do with Moderates and more to do with Liberals and Democrats and Conservatives and Republicans. I have noticed a very condescending tone when it comes to political discourse between the parties. Talking politics has less to do with debating civilly and more to do with yelling at each other nowadays. I would like for everyone who is reading this, regardless of political affiliation, to think about what I am about to say. Democrats are not un-American freeloaders who hate the military, white people, and religion. On the other hand, Republicans are not racist, sexist, homophobes who are out to get minorities and the underprivileged. Every single person has a reason as to why he or she is affiliated with the party that he or she is affiliated with. Sally is not a Democrat because she hates the rich and wants them all to suffer. John is not a Republican because he thinks that homeless people should eat dog food. There are complex, personal reasons for a person’s political affiliation, and we can’t stereotype and judge people based on this.
In today’s world, information is limitless. There are online news organizations, opinion forums and so many other ways to access other people’s viewpoints. We cannot continue to refuse to take other people’s perspectives into account. I am not saying that we have to agree, but we should see that there is reasoning behind other people’s point of view and that they are not “stupid”, or “evil” for thinking what they think.
I urge everyone to broaden their political horizons: Liberals, take a break from MSNBC and put Fox News on once in a while. It won’t kill you. Conservatives, I invite you to skim through The Washington Post from time to time. This will be frustrating at first; you will sigh heavily and roll your eyes. But as time goes on, you will be more informed of and sensitive to the views of others. You will see those who disagree with you as people who have reasons for their views and not as “morons who don’t know a thing about anything”. And hopefully, in American society, we will reach a point where we can say, “Well, I see your perspective, but I respectfully disagree,” instead of reflexively demonizing each other.