So our new president of the United States will be elected soon, and I can’t help but look back at this whole election cycle and cringe. This is the first election I am legally able to vote in, and I’m not sure if I even want to bother. Both of our candidates are absolutely terrible, and seeing how the media, and the parties themselves have treated these candidates has made me lose all hope in our two party system. It’s true that our two party system is a staple of our country, but that does not mean it’s immune from criticism. I registered as an independent for a reason, because I’m the kind of person who likes to look at every side of an argument before coming to a conclusion. What I have learned in my time looking at both sides is that neither of the parties are palatable to me. The true issue I see with the two party system is that there is an incentive for each side to become more and more extreme over time. I remember when the Orlando shooting took place, I also remember how each party responded to that horrible event.
The democrats prominently shouted, “We need to get rid of guns!” While the Republicans prominently shouted, “We need to ban Muslims!”Each side took their own extreme, unconstitutional position, rather than coming together to find a more rational solution. Did all of them shout these things, no, but a good number of them did, enough to develop a stereotype. What’s more is that I’ve seen how each side views the other. Every major democrat I’ve talked with see’s republicans as “looney Christians,” While every major republican view the other side as “insane socialists.” I dread how hard it has become to have a simple conversation in politics without being labeled as an extremist of either side. It gets even worse when you start being labeled as a “murderer” or a “hater of the constitution” when you try to argue in favor of pro-choice or common sense gun control with the far right. Or when you’re labeled as an “Islamophobe,” “xenophobe” or “racist” when you try to bring up immigration, or the issue of terrorism with a member of the far left.
I became an independent so I wouldn’t fall into the trap of ideology and rhetoric, so I wouldn’t become blind to the any side’s view. There’s something very important that has gone missing in the last several decades, and that’s perspective. The painful truth is that we, as people, are more comfortable in our echo chambers, and have a natural aversion to ideas that challenge our own. We would much rather throw stones from our glass houses than try and come together to figure something out, let alone acknowledge the problems within our own parties. It seems that many people have voluntarily surrounded themselves within the fog of ignorance, going about their daily lives without even contemplating stepping into another person’s shoes. The only way to further ourselves as people, and as a country, is to step out of our own personal fog and into the other party’s shoes. Perspective and empathy for the other side is what many of us are lacking, and it’s helping to create a social divide in this country.
This is an issue that goes far beyond politics and can be applicable to nearly every major social issue or movement happening right now. However, it seems to all stem from politics. With all that said, I heavily encourage everyone to take the time and really look at the other side, whether it be a political party or a social movement. If you’re a democrat or a republican, try and look at the other side with an open mind, even if you still don’t agree with them afterward, you’ll at least have an honest idea of what they’re about. The point I want to make is that you shouldn’t live in a bubble. Rather you should open your mind and explore new frontiers of knowledge, you may find out that you have more in common with the others than you initially thought.