The War Between Republicans and Democrats
... and why it needs to stop.
It’s hard to deny that there is a growing sense of tension between the two primary political parties. It can probably be traced back many years, but recently it has reached such a boiling point that I half expect fists to start flying at any sort of debate. A lot of this is strategic, both on the part of the politicians and the media. For politicians, you want your supporters to be pumped up and ready to take on the world, and the easiest way to do that is demonize the opposition. Make voters think that, if they lose, it will mean the end of their world and the rise of evil. For the media, controversy and conflict translate to ratings and ratings translate to funding. So what we have are two powerful sectors that both want you to engage in a battle royal with the other guy. But this mentality is poisoning the U.S.A.’s population and only results in a loss for all of us. Many politicians today would have us believe that compromise is for the weak and doing so would be equal to a betrayal of your party. But when no one compromises; nothing happens.
Despite this venomous message being sent to us from powerful outlets, the story on the ground is actually quite different. I live in a city that is very conservative. The two most common buildings are banks and churches. I, however, am extremely liberal. For the most part, this isn’t a problem, I just don’t mention my views to anyone and no arguments ensue. But, because I don’t flaunt my political views in public, I’ve witnessed some view-point changing moments from the people who I’m lead to believe are my enemy. The first was one of my former bosses. During my time working for her, she was always patient and understanding of employee concerns. She wasn’t intimidating, but she commanded respect for all of the projects she was undertaking, one of which was an extremely lengthy and stressful remodeling project for the business. She cared for her employees and it showed when she stuck her neck out to get us all a Christmas bonus, something that had never happened before, and would never happen again (at least during my time there). She did all of this while operating under a board of directors that loved to micro-manage and was extremely difficult to please. I felt bad for her when the board imposed another ridiculous procedure or when something went wrong with the building project. She was the kind of person that, despite whatever crap she was dealing with, would always make time for employees and keep good spirits throughout. This boss, whom I respected, was also a republican.
Another notable instance is when I recently got my car fixed. It was a problem I had been putting off for months and months because I knew it was going to be expensive and I just didn’t have the money to afford it. Eventually the problem became too much to ignore, so I reallocated funds and made an appointment. In the past I had been screwed over by a big name car repair place, who will remain nameless, so I decided to go with a local business. I had tried them before and they seemed to offer fair prices so I went with them again. It was clear, upon entering their building, that they didn’t have the same views as me. Dead animal heads lined the walls and pamphlets on Christianity were on display on the main counter. I was so worried about the differing political views that I removed my liberal bumper stickers, fearing that it would somehow influence their behavior towards me. I feel bad thinking that, not only because they were very nice, but because they also managed to save me $120 off the final bill. Looking out for one’s fellow man and giving fair treatment isn’t something the ‘evil’ enemy would do. But I suppose I should take a moment to clarify here; I don’t think all republicans are inherently mean or spiteful, I just worry, because of the political scene, that revealing my views will result in the same level of rage that we’re seeing among politicians and some activists.
But these are not isolated incidents; I’ve known many people in my little conservative town, ones that hold different views, who are anything but the enemy. They are people I could be friends with, people who I could and would want to compromise with if given an issue to debate. Maybe to some, this doesn’t seem like much of a revelation, but after seeing nothing but political warfare, you begin to think that the other side really is evil. We need to work together on the issue of not hating each other just because some guys in suits say we should. Maybe if we can start to eliminate the anger between the parties, they might start to compromise on capitol hill.
So, the next time you meet someone from the opposite party, try not to let the politics of the day define them. We’re all a heck of a lot more alike than we are led to believe. Real people can compromise and get passed party divides, and we need to lead by example to send our representatives that same message.