By Erica Brosnan
With 2016 being such a polarizing election, it seems as though all anyone wants to talk about is politics. Now, I’m a huge advocate of friendly debate over policies and candidates, but if you’re one of those people who is willing to end a friendship or refuse to engage with somebody because they have a different view than you, then it’s time to reevaluate.
People are more than who they are voting for. Just because somebody is supporting one particular candidate doesn’t mean they automatically support every single position that candidate holds. When the political race narrowed down to two major candidates (excluding the option to vote third party), it became about voting for whatever is most important to you. At this point, you pick a candidate that best reflects the few core issues you feel strongly about. This does not equate to unanimous agreement with a candidate.
I feel as if the division between the two parties has become excessive. It has come to the point where some people have decided they cannot associate with anyone that doesn’t brand themselves with the same party affiliation. But there’s nothing wrong with talking to people who have opposing views. Debates don’t need to be vicious arguments, and if you can’t discuss policies without screaming at people who don’t agree with you, you’re too immature to be having that discussion.
I love seeing people engage with one another, and I love talking about issues that are important to me, but might not be important to others. I love different points of view because it challenges me to back up my own ideas, and it makes me think about why I feel so strongly about certain issues in the first place.
Now that the first presidential debate has concluded, it is the perfect time for everyone to read up on policies and educate themselves on issues. Find somebody who is a Republican if you are a Democrat, or vice versa, and talk to them about what they think the most important issues are.
Ask people why they’re voting for a candidate because you want to share your opinions with them, not because you want to attack them. Explain your own beliefs in a civil manner and figure out how to have an intellectual conversation without taking everything to heart. If the people you’re debating with become hostile, they obviously cannot have that discussion and are exactly the type of people I’m talking about. But you don’t need to be.
And here’s a little fact: you can be friends with somebody who doesn’t share the same political views as you. The only reason we have this divide now is because of how antagonistic people get when their ideas are challenged. You go to university to have your beliefs and ideals challenged. Why not take the opportunity to do so?
Who knows, maybe by graduation you might find out that you’re not as liberal or as conservative as you once thought.
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