Politics Over People
The band-aids covering certain issues are beginning to fall off. Will we continue replacing them or finally address the underlying problems?
As I scroll through my Twitter feed, I’m struck by the blatant divisiveness and hatred thrown around like ugly confetti, covering everything and taking months to pick up every last piece. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it all began; when politics became more important than people. When people began identifying themselves by who they voted for in the last election. When registering with a party meant signing an unspoken agreement to support that party no matter what. It seems the number one rule to join a political party right now is that you have to hate the opposition… How did we get here?
Some probably blame it on the 2016 Elections, when a man who was thought to be somewhat of a joke when he first announced his campaign, suddenly found himself in the Oval Office. But the seeds were sown long before Donald Trump became President. Some like to brag about how far we’ve come since our founding, a nation once rooted in slavery, sexism, oppression and a strict separation of class. We have the American Dream right? But, I can’t help but think how far we haven’t come from the Civil Rights Era, the first women’s movement or any other progressive period we look back on during America’s short time as a nation.
The United States is not even 250, which is relatively young when lined up against the likes of India, China, Great Britain, etc. And while our democratic republic has lasted longer than some assumed it would, the frailty of it all is showing. A nation’s strength is not solely on the select few chosen to govern. It’s not in the privileged 1%. It’s in the hands of teachers and gas station clerks, construction workers and lawyers working pro bono, students organizing protests and entrepreneurs trying to operate a small-business…
It’s no secret women across the country are preparing for November and I for one am excited about the record-breaking number of female candidates this year. We need that, there’s no doubt. We need new perspectives, diverse voices that have been silenced or talked over for far too long. But I wonder… Will it be enough?
If the House flips, if someone beats Trump in 2020, if a number of things occur and the political ideology shifts, it will still not fix the underlying issues we’re dealing with right now. The exterior issues, the flashy ones we’re focused on right now, they are vital and long overdue for a serious national debate. But that’s just it… There isn’t really a debate happening right now.
It’s Left vs. Right
Democrat vs. Republican
Liberal vs. Conservative
Old-school vs. Progressive
You pick a side and you defend it with everything you’ve got and you automatically disagree with those on the other side and talk of bipartisanship is a sign of weakness. “We the People” harp on our politicians who won’t work with each other but we then turn around and do the same thing with our neighbors. We complain our government is so bitterly divided but refuse to acknowledge the simple truth: Our government mirrors our nation. It’s like looking at a big ugly mirror that exposes every flaw you try so hard to hide, but at the end of the day it stares right back at you, demanding your attention. And oh does the government have the attention of the American people right now, not to mention the rest of the world, watching to see what we do next.
And that’s the million dollar question: What will we do next? Will we medicate our country with new leaders, hoping a prescription change will fix us just enough to continue operating? Or will we accept our real diagnosis?
We have old wounds that have never healed and they are showing back up with a vengeance. And the new generations that are equipped with enough hindsight to see the damage and recognize the consequences of doing nothing are being drowned out by groups of people growing more concerned with their political party affiliation and being “right” than creating a table where all views are invited, heard and factored into a lasting solution.
We have to be willing to talk to one another again. We need people who believe in their ideals but want to hear other’s opinions and viewpoints. We need voters who are educated heading to the polls, not blinding checking all the the boxes on one side of the ballot. And as a member of “the media,” I realize I’m partially to blame for the less-than-perfect coverage and input we have contributed to the national debate. We need to constantly remember that there is nothing more important in this democratic republic than a well-informed electorate.
It takes effort to be informed. It takes effort to reach out and hear differentiating views. It takes effort to listen in a time when you can voice your opinions online at any given time and someone is bound to hear it. This won’t solve all our problem. There are far too many expanding over numerous issues, but it’s a start. You can’t fix a problem without recognizing there is one.
The (not-so) United States of America is suffering an identity crisis…
And it’s not like we’re good at hiding our crisis either. We plaster it on the internet, the comment section erupting into chaos as people sit behind the comfort and security of their screen, saying things they wouldn’t dare to utter in person. But, if we begin listening more than we shout, and accepting that our opinions are not set in stone, that they are subject to change and growth, and that they can contribute rather than dominate, it may be a start… A first step in remembering who we were, who we are and who we can be.