Today: Jul 23, 2024

Political discussion: taboo


Why do discussions about politics get so heated? I’ve encountered and heard many stories from friends about political discussions getting out of hand. Just this week a friend of mine was promoting a political club to another student, when a student of a different political ideology began to berate her for their opposing views. He was blaming her opinions and the party she sides with as the sole reason America is on the wrong path.

I think this is crazy!

In my opinion, the U.S. Congress has played a heavy role in creating these kinds of occurrences. Every day you have members of Congress constantly attacking each other, blaming one another for the country’s troubles—yet if they worked together and debated like adults, perhaps the country wouldn’t have these problems.

I totally support a person’s right to argue his or her opinion against another but in an adult manner. This mentality of one side being right and the other side being wrong couldn’t be further from the truth in my opinion. In fact, in most cases, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

I believe that’s obvious to the majority of Americans, yet Congress and some political junkies don’t see it that way. Members of Congress say they do, but they don’t seem to act upon it. There is a reason why Congress has a 10 percent approval rating at the moment: they are not working together. They are confronting one another and blaming each other in a seemingly never-ending series of heated exchanges in the media and on the House and Senate floors.

I’m a journalism major, but here in the United States I’m able to choose classes outside of my major—which in the United Kingdom I couldn’t do. Last semester I figured it was the perfect chance to do a political science course.

Now, being the fan-boy for American politics that I am, I can’t express the excitement I felt to experience the diverse political opinions in person—Tea Party supporters especially, since I had read a great deal about their growth and integration into American politics over the past few years. But I was excited to meet and talk to supporters of all sides.

There were differing opinions, and I have encountered Tea Party supporters, conservatives, liberals, libertarians; and I found there was common ground on some issues—even if it was simply that they wanted to help America. That’s what I believe people forget: all sides want the best for the country, they just believe in a different path to reach that goal.

But you can’t reach that goal if you are on the attack from the get-go.

Two weeks ago I wrote an article for Southern News about political adverts, and the article included two photos; one of Mitt Romney and the other of Newt Gingrich—both Republicans. I showed the article to a friend that I hadn’t spoken about politics with before, and before he even read it his immediate response was to say angrily: “You’re a Republican?!” I went on to explain I have no affiliation to either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. But I left thinking: So what if I did? Why should that be a problem? But that sums up the kind of political era we’re in: one in which talking about politics leads to immediate criticism and judgment rather than the creation rational dialogue.

So talk about politics with your fellow students, find out their opinions. And if they’re not in accordance with your own, embrace it. I believe you always learn something from those encounters.

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