Us Vs. Them

4 minute read

If you’re continuously posting, discussing or following anything political on social media, particularly this past week, I need to ask you to do something: please be careful of what you post, share, or say.

Not because any one side is too fragile or ignorant to handle the truth, but because “the other party is too ___ to handle it” is likely the first thing to come to mind when asked to be careful about politics. That’s the mentality many have developed: “they” on the other side are terrible, wrong, or misguided. This country’s political problems are not due to any individual, party, or mentality, but due to the divide between them.

What good does it do to call Trump supporters racists? Or Hillary supporters ignorant? Does one piece of anecdotal evidence showing one protester or supporter going too far really serve any productive purpose? Would any of this actually convince the other side to look at how they think? Or have both sides heard it so much that the concern is ignored, and so all that statement does is instigate? This boils down to name calling and provoking, both of which can’t inspire reflection on personal ideology.

The moment you make a broad generalization about any group, you are unjustly labeling the elements or members that group. You’re also giving yourself, and those you influence, preconceived notions that don’t do anyone any good. Mostly because they’re false, but specifically because they’re dividing. When discussing politics, you would appreciate others listening with a calm, open mind, because you and your ideas deserve the light of day. Whether an opposing group is liberal, conservative, democrat, republican, socialist, libertarian, etc., if you demand that respect, you must give that respect.

Nearly half the nation voted for Trump, and half for Hillary. People had dozens of reasons to vote for or against either, or vote third party. To say that democrats are protesting because they’re whiney when they don’t win and want free stuff, or that republicans want only a white, Christian, patriarchal US, is to be ignorant of the underlying concerns each party has.

Trump’s attitude towards Muslims is terrifying, as it’s the same kind of generalization and “us versus them” mentality that’s keeping our country apart. Deporting illegal immigrants and building a wall would be a money-burning task with no possible way to complete. Given the “grab ‘em” audio, his victory feels like a loss for women’s rights. And his climate policies are not at all future-oriented.

At the same time, I can understand the appeal of someone who finally isn’t a professional politician. Who is confident he can get things done. Who prioritizes the return of jobs for the working class. He gets a lot of garbage from media sources as well, which makes it hard to filter out what’s concerning and what isn’t.

Hillary’s ties with the middle east, disappearing emails, all but stealing the democratic nomination, and ties with an already controversial DNC also bring concern. A no fly zone over Syria would be a declaration of war with Russia. It’s easy to see her as another Obama term, which concerns those who want change from the past 8 years. It’s also concerning that several contributors to her campaign were also influential news outlets, and can bring up questions about fair coverage between the two main candidates.

But, by holding several political positions, constantly being engaged in the legal and political process, it’d be difficult to argue she wasn’t qualified for the position based on her experience. Much more so than Trump, who has no experience. Her policies would be much more likely to protect women’s rights, and involve greater concern over the climate.

I’m not saying don’t debate. Debating political ideas can bring a new mentality or question different ways of thinking. It can help someone understand why so many feel the way they do. But conflicting opinions need to be handled with care and understanding in order for them to be productive. An unsupported, biased clickbait article, or media just meant to provoke an opposing party is not productive.

If there’s something about an opposing party that you don’t understand, ask with a level head. If presented with an opportunity to explain, do so with scientific evidence, a sound political philosophy, and an understanding attitude.

Should you be met with anger after this, you then don’t have yourself to blame, but take care not to blame the entire opposing party for the anger: there’s anger on both sides, but spewing it at each other will not bring this nation together. It won’t allow us to have good, productive discussions about formidable issues, like firearm regulation, reproductive rights, energy sources, and foreign policy. With good discussion comes better understanding and mutually beneficial compromise. Without it comes the same deadlock our government finds itself in, and nothing productive can come of that, for a house divided against itself cannot stand.