Politics Has Turned Into Argument Culture In The United States

Politics Has Turned Into Argument Culture In The United States

A deeper look at how the average American approaches politics.
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It has become a known fact that our nation now thrives on the thought of political controversy. No matter which side of the isle one walks down, the notion of progressively attacking our country’s largest issues at their roots in hopes of creating solutions to our problems has evolved into the idea of aggressively attacking them. The truest downfalls of this country are no longer the primary topics of discussion. Rather, it has become a debacle of pointing fingers at one another in the sole pursuit of proving the opposing side wrong versus advocating for or against the dilemmas at hand. This behavior is projected through all elements of media, and it is the negative development of the argument culture in America that is setting us back from potential political progress.

After recently reviewing a section of a novel entitled "The Argument Culture" by author Deborah Tannen, I found myself particularly intrigued by the overall content. The piece not only discusses the transformation of the argument culture in today’s society, but provides readers with an in depth look at the concept in its most basic form. Tannen writes that argument culture, “has served us well in many ways but in recent years has become so exaggerated that it is getting in the way of solving our problems. Our spirits are corroded by living in an atmosphere of unrelenting contention -- an argument culture.

The argument culture urges us to approach the world -- and the people in it -- in an adversarial frame of mind.

It rests on the assumption that opposition is the best way to get anything done: The best way to discuss an idea is to set up a debate; the best way to cover news is to find spokespeople who express the most extreme, polarized views and present them as "both sides"; the best way to settle disputes is litigation that pits one party against the other; the best way to begin an essay is to attack someone; and the best way to show you're really thinking is to criticize.”

The word “criticism” struck me funny, as I believe it to be the key component to this ultra-specific definition. Not only do we see this reaction through a political lens, though we see it in multiple aspects of our daily lives. As human beings that are constantly exposed to contriving aspects of feeling inadequate, our first response is to criticize another in hopes of boosting our own morale. Instead of addressing our own personal insecurities, we find it easier to compare ourselves to others and talk ourselves into attacking their differences so we may gain a greater sense of confidence within ourselves.

This, in turn, has a significant influence on the shaping of our argument culture, as we believe this is an acceptable retaliation in all areas of life. Yet, what is important is to realize that this flow of negativity begins with us as individuals. If we continue to believe in this distorted concept of irrationality, we have no right to scrutinize the reflective behavior in our political system.

It takes but one person to make a difference in this world. If we ourselves take no initiative to institute change in our surroundings, we will be forced to live with such an ineffective argument culture.
Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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A Message To High School Seniors

It's going to be alright.

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Dear High School Seniors,

You've made it! In just a few months you will be getting ready to put on your cap and gown and walk across the stage to get your diploma. Soon, you're gonna say goodbye to the life you've known for the past four years and start a new life somewhere else. At this point, your senioritis has most likely already kicked in and you're probably dreading waking up at 7 a.m. more and more each day. The second semester of senior year is annoying but cherish every moment of it.

Everything is about to change. As you walk down the hallways look around. Take a second to look at your classmates and ask them how their day is going. Learn about them and the stories they have to share with the world. Everybody has some advice to give and you never know what you're going to learn. Before you know it, you won't be seeing their faces anymore. The only form of connection you'll have with most of them is through social media which will eventually fade as well. You don't want your only memories of those you graduated with to be just seeing their face in the hall.

Go to the places you love the most. Whether it's your favorite hometown restaurant or your favorite place to hang out with your friends, go. Go until you're sick of it. Take a second to acknowledge the sights and smells around you. You're going to miss them. In a few months, you won't be able to jump in your car and drive five minutes to get there. The places that make your home your home are about to be a long car ride or flight away.

Spend time with your family. This is one thing I wish I realized earlier more than anything. Your parents are most likely going to soon become visibly upset or scared at the fact that you're leaving them. After all, you are their little girl or boy. This time is just as stressful for them as it is for you. But don't make fun of them, hang out with them. You're going to miss the once dreaded trips to the grocery store with your mom and the annoying car rides with your little brother. You really don't realize how important your family is to you until they're not a few footsteps away anymore. Unfortunately, no amount of facetime calls will ever compare to being with them in person. Don't leave home wishing you had spent more time with them.

Be involved in the things happening at your school. Go to prom. Buy a yearbook and get as many people as you can to sign it. Go to the football, basketball, baseball and soccer games you have left. These activities may seem boring at times but they are what you're going to miss. When you get to a big university it isn't going to be as easy to get involved.

Get excited about for the future. Even if you're not going to your dream school, it's going to be ok. The second semester of my senior year I spent upset over the fact I was going to stay at an in-state school. The school I'm at now was the last place I had thought about attending. I almost didn't even apply. However, I am so lucky that I did. I truly can not imagine there being a school that could have been a better choice for me. The people I have met and the opportunities I have been given would have never been put in front of me if I had attended another school. Try to keep an open mind. Everything really does happen for a reason. If you aren't going to the school you originally were hoping to, don't stress. You're going to end up at the place right for you, at least I know I did.

College is amazing but there will always be something special about your home. Make sure you make these last few months your best months. These next few months will be filled with a whole lot of lasts and followed by a whole lot of firsts. Good luck!

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