Politics, Polarization, and Perspective, Oh My!


Pew Research Center

Abby Arthur, Photography Editor

With the excessive drama surrounding the government in regards to the longest shutdown in modern history and whether or not a boarder wall will be built, Americans are viewing the news with confusion, frustration, and disgust, on all ends of the spectrum. Personally, when the news is on in my house, I feel two ways. The first is repulsion. What I see gives me a feeling that makes me want to shut off everything due to the constant inability to compromise in our polarized Congress that agitates me. If the pure rage does not make me angrily push the off button on my remote, I find myself somewhat (and maybe cynically so) amused. Because of the antics and persona of the president and the people around him, I sometimes find watching the news to be a comical reality T.V. show that would be good with a side of popcorn.
I may have my own views surrounding politics, and although sometimes it can be more challenging than others, I try to make myself able to cooperate and get along with those from the other side. In no way am I perfect in my communicating, but I do believe that the general lack of understanding is heavily to blame for driving the nation apart so drastically. How can people expect to reach a compromise or even peacefully convene if they are not willing to become informed beyond their own biases? To make your own informed opinions and be able to understand not only your side, but the opposing one, you must have an open mind to uncovering the unbiased facts. Yet, this is not an effortless, easy task.
With the dominant role that narrowcasting plays in today’s media, people turn to news outlets that have the same opinion of them because that is what they want to hear, it is what they are comfortable with. Their self-pride clouds their ability to be empathetic. As shown in the following graphic, the democrats have become more liberal and the republicans more conservative. To declare that everyone must respect everyone even if they disagree with other’s views but should respect them is a nice notion, but not realistic. I find that currently, it is very difficult to involve yourself in politics if you can’t trash the other side. That’s not what politics should be about. They should be about standing up for your beliefs but understanding compromises must be met if anything is to get done.
I see the first step to change is understanding. It can start with something small, like an open, honest conversation. If you can work to understand those around you, maybe that can cause a ripple effect and compromised, positive change will affect our nation.