Why I Have A Love-Hate Relationship With American Politics
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Politics and Activism

Why I Have A Love-Hate Relationship With American Politics

My thoughts after visiting Cleveland during the RNC.

Why I Have A Love-Hate Relationship With American Politics
Readers Digest

To start off, I wan't to make this exceedingly clear: This article is not about my politics. I'm not trying to push my or anyone's agenda on you. This article is a description of what I experienced when I was there, and the thoughts and feelings that it led me to have. So now that we got that out of the way, let's proceed.

Sometimes I find it difficult to say I am an American. I was born and grew up in a different country, and have seen justified unfavorable views on American ideals. The love of excess in everything from food to patriotism, and a reputation of sticking their nose in other countries' business. I always heard how people would talk to their kids, saying that maybe you could be the next president. I never had that. Being born outside of the U.S., it was made exceedingly clear to me that I could do practically everything but that. It's not that I would even want to be President, but I am telling you this so you understand that I might have a cynical view on politics. I feel like that even if I wanted to make a difference it would be inevitably pointless, especially with such a confusing and pointless voting system as the Electoral College.

At the same time, America has a beautiful, rich history of the pursuit freedom. A freedom that led to revolution and rights for all human beings so that everyone has an opportunity at the American Dream. To raise themselves up from a nobody to a somebody simply because they work hard enough. This dream became a call for people across the world to hopefully find a place among us, and add to it their own experiences, culture, and ideas.

During this week, I got the opportunity to visit one of my good friends in Cleveland. He warned me that the Republican National Convention (RNC) was also going on at the same time, and that he wanted to go and watch the riots. I wanted to see the city, so we decided to make a day of it. We met up with one of his friends and meandered for most of the day across the city. I don't know what I was expecting, but I was still surprised to what I found.

First of all, there was a lot of Trump merchandise. Street vendors--who you had to question whether or not they actually supported Trump or just wanted to make money off of him--cornered every street. It started to be confusing as to who were street performers and who were protesters at some points. At the center square underneath the statue of Moses Cleveland (founder of Cleveland), we expected to see a massive crowd of protesters rioting, but were disappointed to find only a handful of people milling about while a more elderly woman spoke at a podium. So we left and meandered for a good amount of time, watching as rows of police passed by on foot, bikes, and horses. We saw two men dressed in Muslim garb carrying around weapons with them in open view as an act of protest, practicing their right to open carry within Cleveland.

We eventually returned back to the center square to find ourselves in a huge crowd of protesters. On one half were people who sided with the Black Lives Matter movement, while on the other there were Christian extremists that we had seen earlier, with police surrounding and in between them. Now this was what we wanted to see.

We merged in with the crowd of journalists and cameramen surrounding outside the wall of police as we listened to both sides of an issue spread extreme hate. I had never seen anything like it before. Whether it was towards the police, victims of shootings, or even homosexuals, the hate spreading off of the people in the crowd was intense. At one point, a single guy standing next to me started chanting "All lives matter" by himself, leading to a chorus chant of "F*** That guy" from the people supporting Black Lives Matter. I slowly backed away from the crowd, as I tried to wrestle with how I felt about all of this. No matter what, each of these two groups were showing hate towards specific groups of people, sometimes for justifiable reasons. But is this really the best way to use our voice? I was glad that people could speak what they wanted and know that their rights were protected in doing so, but it almost hurt to watch.

This left me more diminished and confused then I expected. Was there ever a time where showing this much hatred in protest was justified? And if these people could believe so strongly in something, why was I still so uncertain about my convictions? I'm still processing and working on answering these questions, but I was able to find some who redeemed it. People used comedy to help counter some of the hate, like Internet sensation Vermin Supreme (who I was able to meet), who is convinced that giving everyone a free pony will solve all of our economic problems. There were also protesters who stood in front of some extremely hateful protesters with signs that were humorously very much against bangs and people with the name Kevin.

Concluding this, I guess I should just say I love and hate America. I love and hate what it stands for, and the politics that we are free to have a say of either hatred or love within. As I continue to grow and become a better person, I hope that America does the same, growing through a progression of loving discourse that we can all take a part in. And I understand that the only way to do this is to play an active part in it. I think America was perhaps not as great as we thought it was, but I don't want to be as great as we were. I want us to strive to be greater. And I feel like the only way for that to happen is for us as a culture to create within ourselves a greater capacity for love.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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