In light of the recent political rallies, such as those of presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, in Pittsburgh over the last few weeks, I think it's necessary to take a step back from the superficial tension and delve a little deeper into the core of varying political viewpoints.
As I scroll through my Facebook and Twitter, I continue to see political post after political post, some more vicious than others. As the race for the White House continues, people are becoming more and more passionate about their thoughts and feelings on the topic. As young adults, we are learning about what goes into making our country successful as an individual nation, as well as with its relations with other countries.
As we progress further along in our lives, we experience different scenarios and situations that have the potential to sway our political views. Some people follow the political beliefs of their parents, while others feel undecided about what they think, or may even sharply contrast with what their family stands for in that realm. However, it seems as if the media coverage and political rallying associated with this intense election has sparked a heightened level of controversy between the supporters, and opposition of all of the candidates.
On April 13, 2016, Donald Trump paid a visit to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He spent about an hour filming a televised interview with Sean Hannity from Fox News at the University of Pittsburgh, and the rest of Trump's evening was spent at a rally in downtown Pittsburgh at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. I figured that as a politically interested college student, I would take advantage of my free time on that day and head down to Oakland to see Mr. Trump speak with Mr. Hannity.
The first thing I need to address was that the amount of traffic and commotion throughout the entire city was astounding. I have lived my whole life in this city and had never seen such congestion. That aside, I came into the event curious to see the interaction between the avid supporters, the people like myself who simply just wanted to attend the event and seek more information about this particular candidate and his campaign, and the protestors of Mr. Trump.
There had been a lot of information going through the rumor mill regarding the types of protests and groups that would be present at the Pitt event, as well as the subsequent rally. However, upon my arrival, I just wanted to take everything in around me. Many people had signs, and while some protestors were more vocal than others, I had no conflict with anyone of any belief, nor did I witness anything overly dramatic. The most common behavior I witnessed was the proposal of simple questions such as, "Why are you here?" "What do you support?" and "Why do you support this candidate?" I did hear of more vicious and physical protests at the downtown rally and that saddens me because that takes away from the purpose of these sort of events. You can love, hate or have no concrete stance on Mr. Trump or Mr. Sanders or whomever, and you can go to their events with any sort of belief you want, but we must understand that people are entitled to their opinions, and that's OK. It is not OK, however, to infringe on people's rights to engage in these sort of political activities, even if you don't fully agree with them.
While I understand that some people could be easily angered by the sort of questions asked by peaceful protestors, I took no offense. I went to the event on a quest to seek out more information regarding the potential Republican nominee. I had no firm stance on the man. The event was close and worked with my schedule, so I went. It was an eye-opening and thought-provoking experience. Being there made me feel so thankful for living here in the United States, where we have the legal ability to express how we feel and can attend these sort of political gatherings. There is a distinct beauty in political differentiation.
If we were all clones who wore the same clothes, ate the same food and talked the same way, life would be such a bore without progress and advancement from the general basis of conduct. We can apply this philosophy to our views on this heated election race. If we all loved one candidate, there would be no need for this in the first place. No new ideas would ever emerge, and we would be stuck living the same life on repeat for the rest of time. Now is the time to embrace people's political differences, and think about why they think that way. Because who knows? Maybe that one thought or that one conversation with someone who believes something totally different than you can transform the way you look at our nation.
This article is not about Donald Trump. It is not about Bernie Sanders. It is not about Ted Cruz. It is not about Hillary Clinton. It is about agreeing to disagree, and getting the facts in an attempt to understand why people believe what they believe.
So stop stealing your political beliefs from Facebook and Twitter. Educate yourself on what's really happening because we are the future, and the future is now.