Keeping an Open Mind in the Wake of the 2016 Election

With the 2016 presidential election coming to an end over a month ago, it is becoming increasingly obvious that our nation is greatly divided when it comes to political stances. In fact, protests took place almost immediately after Donald Trump was announced President-elect of the United States. I believe it is safe to assume that those who are on polar-opposite sides in this election likely have no intentions of cooperating with the other side anytime soon.

A few days before the election, my school journalism group was assigned an article covering the student body. We wanted to know what our fellow students thought the next president could do in order for them to be able to say with confidence that they are proud to be Americans.

My partner and I interviewed students from all grade levels. Upon seeking them out, however, I quickly came to the realization that I had very little communication with the conservative students at my own school because all of my friends, like myself, are liberal in their political views. I was in awe of the fact that I could name twenty other liberals off the top of my head, but was virtually incapable of identifying any conservatives.

Because many students and politically concerned youth, including myself, surround themselves with like-minded individuals, it may be hard to cross over into a thorough and comprehensive understanding of another’s views. This is what has caused the disconnect between the political parties this election year. Naturally, disagreement in politics is a given, but rarely has the U.S. experienced said disagreements with the severity that we have seen the past few months.

The connection I have made between my position and those who supported this year’s candidates is simply that there is an obvious lack of mutual tolerance and understanding; I was unable to reach out to a specific group of individuals, perhaps because I have only a rudimentary knowledge of their opinions and goals and, in the grand scheme of things, it has been brutally difficult for many voters to even consider seeing the conservative side due to Trump’s dangerous rhetoric and his appeal to extremists.

The only way to eliminate this problem is to attempt to develop a better understanding of each other’s beliefs. If you are able to speak well on a subject that is controversial and keep an open mind when listening to another person explain themselves, it may be easier to understand it, or at least see it through their eyes.

This is crucial to bridging the divide between our heavily opinionated, diametrically opposed nation. Yes, differences in opinion will be prevalent when it comes to any presidential election, but it is imperative that we pledge to listen more and judge less. I plan to move forward with open ears and an open mind. It’s a start, and I hope American voters and students alike will join me.

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