Educate yourselves on politics

Allison Pritchard

Many Americans, young and old, red and blue, don’t know enough about politics to truly hold a solid opinion. They are too quick to scream about the “ignorant conservative bigots” and “whining, bleeding-heart liberals” to even comprehend what they or their counterparts actually stand for. Instead of gathering information and critically thinking about the issues, people pick a side, often engrained into them from family, friends, MTV or perhaps even from one’s strong beliefs on one issue, and blindly follow.

After the intense climate of the past election, I see remnants of the polarization and bickering in Facebook groups like “I don’t date Republicans,” or “All Republicans, all the time.”

While some college students are genuinely educated about their beliefs, others seem to hold unsubstantiated opinions. I asked a friend why she’s a Republican: “I’ve always been Republican because I like money.” I asked a friend why she’s a Democrat: “Because conservatives are ignorant, and Bush sucks.” People have the opinions but not the facts.

Instead of productive dialogue, disagreements become heated attacks on self-worth. Benchwarmers become players in the sport of politics. People who would otherwise form friendships miss out due to their strong “beliefs.”

Both sides become polarized in the eyes of their counterparts. Liberals are “baby killers who want everyone to have gay sex” and conservatives are “war mongers who want government-controlled religion.” Instead of getting excited calling your conservative roommate a hypocrite for smoking pot and getting laid, everyone needs to do more listening.

To fully understand a view, people need to understand the opposing view. Issues aren’t as simple as people like to make them out to be when they spout mantras like “Don’t kill the unborn,” or “Support our troops.” Neither side is perfect, and there is more behind most issues than meets the eye.

I used to be a die-hard liberal, but now I have taken time to listen instead of buying “Who ever heard of a hot piece of elephant?” bumper stickers. I’ve learned more about others’ beliefs and realized I (along with many others) am actually more moderate than I thought. Once one actually listens to another point of view, it seems a little saner. I’ve learned that everyone wants the same things; they just have different opinions on how to get there. Liberals seem to be afraid of not questioning things, and conservatives are afraid the questioning will ruin what good is left.

It scares me that the “majority” gets to make decisions for the future of this country when so many remain ignorant. The problem isn’t that “Bush sucks,” or that he does or does not, in fact, suck. The problem is that most people don’t know the reasons why or why not.

Everyone needs to talk constructively with people instead of defensively. Keep an open mind. Instead of hating your supposed counterparts, listen to them. Learn a little bit.

There is no black and white, red and blue. We live in the best nation in the world, and we should work together, instead of continuing our own political war of bickering. America needs to see past the red and blue, and look at all of the colors together: red, white and blue.

Allison Pritchard is a junior electronic media production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].