Election day, November 3, is just weeks away. That is the day you will vote for the future of this country. And if you are voting by mail, the date is even closer. Amid a pandemic, increasing awareness of systemic racism, and ravaging natural disasters, there is no doubt the 2020 election will be historic.
Politics is and has always been a dividing issue. And now, with a government where opposing political parties cannot find common ground, supporters on both sides are drawing lines in the sand. That has led to a prime example of an enduring societal belief — never talk politics.
To never talk politics with someone from a different political party has been ingrained in me. I don't know where that belief comes from other than it being constantly reinforced by society. When I was younger, I never understood how talking about something that impacts everyday life and the future is considered taboo. The belief continues with me to this day.
Granted, while that belief has stayed firm to this day, my political beliefs have changed. College and other life experiences have influenced me to look and act with a more extreme, polarizing view that others may not agree with or share. But the other day, I had an opportunity to talk to someone with different political beliefs than me. It was a moment that opened my eyes.
Our conversation, although brief in nature, brought up several profound thoughts regarding factors that increase the Political Divide and I would like to share them with you:
Don't be one-sided.
Understand the other person has their own perspective. Political beliefs form from complex socioeconomic and religious factors and life experiences. Often, you may not know the full story of why a person believes what they do. You DO NOT have to agree with them, but you should understand where they are coming from if you wish to engage in a civil and productive conversation.
Voting is about who you think will be best... Then again, it may not be.
Voting is the backbone of our democracy. It is a process by which a person expresses their opinion. The right to vote is to vote for who you think will be the best candidate. However, that is not to say, vote for an individual who only benefits you. It is essential when voting and speaking about Politics to consider others, especially minorities, who may be affected by policies that you might disregard.
Do your own research.
Political beliefs and opinions are usually formed from childhood. We often adopt the views of our family and friends. We also sometimes reject them. In truth, it does not matter which political party you align with. Still, it is essential to do your own research regarding the candidate's policies and the party you are endorsing. That way, you understand what you are saying, supporting, and discussing.
Remember the political division is nothing new.
The Partisan Divide between political parties is embedded in our American Culture. In his 1796 farewell address, George Washington warns the American people about the dangers of factions and the division they will cause. Understand that the division between political parties and beliefs has always been there and may still be there unless we make a change and reach across the aisle or even the dinner table and discuss.
Political conversations are never a place for aggression.
Although it may be tempting to aggressively assert your political beliefs and opinions onto someone with different political views, it should be avoided. I'm not saying do not talk about politics with them. I actually encourage you to discuss why you are voting for an individual or why you hold certain beliefs because it creates a conversation that wouldn't otherwise happen. When talking about politics and trying to influence others to change their thoughts, come from a place of sincerity, wanting to educate them on the importance of their vote and beliefs on other individuals' livelihoods. If you force your opinions onto someone else, it creates a further divide between the two sides. It even reinforces the individual's belief to not vote for the person you want because you do not consider what they believe.
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With these few thoughts regarding the Political Divide and how to overcome it in conversation, it's now time, as Americans, to have that dialogue and start healing the divide within our nation.