As someone who rarely participated in politics, 2016 was a roller coaster ride. Between lies from both major political parties to an endless barrage of “Fake News” with click-bait titles, I found myself having to solidify what once was barely existent: my political views.
I was raised by two people who would describe themselves as follows: too much of a Democrat to be a good Republican, too Republican to be a good Democrat. My father proudly voted for Ross Perot and both my parents have taken their duty to vote for the best possible candidate seriously. Needless to say, there wasn’t any partisan brainwashing happening at my house. So when 2012 rolled around, I was a little excited. It was my first major election and I knew I was going to vote for Barack Obama. I agreed with some of the things I had heard him talk about, the country wasn’t in total ruin after his first term, and he was a cool dude. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, concerned me a little bit. He was pro-abstinence-only sex education in public schools and he wanted to increase military spending, both of which were issues I cared about and both of which we did not agree upon. So it was pretty much a done deal, despite my not watching any debates, listening to any interviews, looking into their backgrounds. It was so simple.
I was naive and young. I was nineteen-going-on-twenty. I now know that I was merely opinionated.
We all know what happened so I won’t recount everything, but what went down that year is what inspired me to go on this journey of discovery I never thought I needed to go on. I needed to cement my beliefs and political opinions.
When you’re a gray person in a black and white political realm, it’s really difficult to do that. It is so difficult for me to take a hard stance on a lot of issues purely because my first thought is: that it isn’t productive. Why allow myself to be bogged down with just one idea about a topic when nearly every opinion about that topic has something to bring to the table?
Some issues are easier than others to be against or for. I believe all people are truly created equal. Everyone in this country deserves an education, deserves opportunity, deserves respect. Other issues, and how to solve them, are another thing entirely. Healthcare? I can understand that everyone deserves quality healthcare, but is the government providing that access to healthcare really and truly the only answer? And why not focus less on insurance and more on making healthcare itself more affordable; why not, somehow, make healthcare affordable without insurance companies?* Why is everyone seemingly only focusing on the idea of one solution?
Because everyone just wants to be right and no one wants to solve the problem.
I know, who will bell the cat. But I think in this political climate we as a society need to take a step back, evaluate, and be able to negotiate a little bit more. Having differing ideologies isn’t bad; refusing to do something because The Other Team thought of it, however, is. I’m not saying to forgo your principles or allow injustice to rule. Just consider what other people are saying and try and come up with solutions that give you both what you want.
Example: abortion. Lets define the two main sides of the debate for the sake of argument so we can move forward on the same page.
Pro-life: we believe that life begins at conception/in utero and it isn’t the place of anyone to end that life.
Pro-choice: we believe that a woman should be allowed to do with her body what she feels and the fetus within her womb counts as well.
I think it’s very fair to say no one likes abortion. No one wakes up and decides to have a very emotional procedure done to themselves. So we need to figure out how to prevent the need for an abortion in the first place. Better access to birth control pills/contraceptives, better, comprehensive (i.e., stresses that abstinence is the only 100%, sure-fire way to not get pregnant but still shows kids the facts) sex education in schools, community support for those who cannot afford previously stated contraceptives, community support in general? These are the ways we can move forward with our discussions, regardless of your stance on abortion. It’s far more productive than yelling at each other and excluding each other from the conversation.
At twenty-four-going-on-twenty-five, I’m still naive and young. My political stances are still forming and I’m listening to all types of voices, from Ben Shapiro to the dudes from Pod Save America to The Friend Zone. I’m reading The Constitution For Dummies and understanding what exactly this country was founded upon. But it truly frustrates me that we can’t seem to solve problems in a way where everyone can win a little bit.
It bothers me that people just want to be right.
Last sidebar: when I speak about compromise, I am not at all suggesting you shouldn’t engage with your representatives about what you specifically want / do not want them to vote for or against. I’m saying you should think about the problem from another angle so maybe new ideas can be generated. I’m also really aware of the fact that this might not be possible for every issue that arises, but it seems applicable to most.