The Daily Gamecock

Column: Push polarization aside

<p>President Donald Trump (left) and President-elect Joe Biden (right) participated in the final presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2020.&nbsp;</p>

President Donald Trump (left) and President-elect Joe Biden (right) participated in the final presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2020. 

In a time of such calamity, people should be working together to find common ground and accomplish things. However, many Americans have become caught up in a fog of bitterness and resentment this year with the presidential election. Instead of resorting to conflict and polarization, people should strive to understand one another and work toward a better America.

Political parties first emerged within the United States in the late 1700s. While Democrats believe in progressive ideas and generally support more government regulations and higher taxes on the wealthy, Republicans stand by traditional viewpoints and believe in less government involvement and lower taxes. These sides have always been separated, but the United States has not seen such political polarization in decades as it has since the Obama and Trump administrations. 

Especially in recent years, participants from both sides of the political spectrum have exhibited violent behavior toward those who disagree with them, as one side believes that its viewpoints are the only correct ones, rights are being threatened, the opposing side “supports evil,” etc. In 2017, a young woman was killed at a rally in Charlottesville by a white-supremacist at a protest. 

Liberals are often labeled as communists and extremists. On the other hand, many supporters of President Trump have been targeted and even beaten in public for wearing his popular “Make America Great Again” merchandise, including a woman in Massachusetts who was physically assaulted for displaying Trump flags. Conservatives are often labeled as racist and homophobic. In a study taken by the Pew Research Center, it was found that the parties’ animosity toward one another has risen and that the vast majority of people say the opposing party’s policies "threaten the nation’s well-being." 

Everyone has a right to an opinion and to share it. But when people resort to this harmful behavior, they overlook the fact that common ground exists in that we are all Americans that want a better future for our country. Finding some kind of empathetic median can bring people together rather than tear them apart. If people are able to recognize that their opinions could be wrong and actually attempt to understand one another, then we might actually have the ability to remain politically involved. 

Based on generalized assumptions, most people would find avoiding diverse discussions as the easier route to take rather than pursuing a real conversation. But it’s this kind of attitude that prevents the understanding that everyone is different and no one is subjected to a single label based on political affiliations. 

A healthy dialogue consists of acknowledging that both sides disagree but agreeing to discuss in an educational manner. Especially among college students, a lot of us strongly adhere to our own opinions, but unless we’re experts in a given topic, we don’t know everything. Having a discussion won’t necessarily change one’s mindset. Rather, it would permit people to recognize why one person feels a certain way instead of automatically labeling that individual. 

This even applies to touchier topics, such as abortion and immigration. Though each side believes in fundamentally different ideas, both fight for the rights of those they consider more vulnerable. If each side could discuss and understand this, then maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to label others as “murderers” or “heartless.”

We are living in very daunting times. With the ongoing pandemic, Americans should push their partisan politics aside and work together to lift each other up. Though this might seem difficult to some, it is attainable. Even prominent liberal news anchor Rachel Maddow — an individual who regularly criticizes the president — wished the Trumps well after they contracted COVID-19 and encouraged her followers to do the same. 

The worst times have always brought out the best in American citizens. If we’re able to look past our differences and find empathy and understanding in one another, we can thrive as a nation of healing. When a majority of people are found to hope that a “family member doesn’t marry someone from the other party,” a problem exists.

Let’s focus on the good in one another and try and turn the remainder of this year around following the election.