How our political climate divides our country and our personal relationships

February 15, 2021 10:25 AM

a crown icon and the words "rising voices award winner"
Image of writing on an outdoor wall, "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes t̶r̶u̶t̶h̶ politics." Photo courtesy of Brian Wertheim via Unsplash.

Image of writing on an outdoor wall, "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes t̶r̶u̶t̶h̶ politics." Photo courtesy of Brian Wertheim via Unsplash.

With our country still torn on our political views, we have forced everyone to pick a side, causing tension in every relationship and environment. Interaction with people that don’t believe in the same ideas as you has caused people to be afraid to leave their homes in fear they might be killed, resulting in division in our country. Both sides are so eager to be correct that they don’t realize that both have the same problems as those that they are trying to fix.

With so many unanswered questions and so much uncertainty in the air, people turn to their elected officials for guidance on how we can change and save our world. We the people are searching for answers to these questions but we are only interested in listening to the answers that we want to hear. Over the last few months our community has seen tragedy, death, injustice and fear and now more than ever we are looking for hope.

This hope comes in many different forms: maybe unemployment checks, healthcare laws or the right to leave your house without your parents wondering if you will make it home. We have been so set in arguing with other people that we forget that what we all want is a safe environment for future generations. Human rights and sustainable living aren’t political views, yet these are the things our country has been divided by. Not agreeing on fundamental rights will never let us agree on things in the future

This division impacts relationships because it is very hard to be around people that don’t share your same views because you feel misunderstood and unheard. I fear that if we don’t stop going backwards in time and reversing human rights for everyone, our country will always be divided.

Farah Stockman, an award-winning journalist and editorial board member of The New York Times, met with me to answer a few questions I had regarding the political divide in the eyes of a journalist who deals with all kinds of views everyday.

“I’m sure if [Donald Trump] won again those who didn’t vote for him would also be looking for a way out,” she said. “So, in a way, it looks a little like how our country did before the Civil War … I hope people decide it’s worth it to stay together.”

History is always written in the eyes of the winner and if we look back on our history, we see that it looks like everyone agreed. In reality, the person who was writing or telling the story was the one who had won. The division in our politics has become more and more defined over the years and has caused us to almost be split in half. If we don’t try to close the gap between the different groups of people we might be looking at another civil war in the future. 

“We looked at history and it seemed like we always agreed,” Stockman explained. “Things always look more united than they feel at the moment.”

No one is willing to change their views but we are all humans and we all deserve human rights, proper health care and a way to live; these things shouldn’t be considered different political views. The division in our country is a problem because if we can’t agree on some things, how will we, in just a few years, be able to decide the fate of our whole country and future generations? Like many people, I look to my elected officials to help pass laws that will help me and ensure I have a future to grow up in.

“When you talk to regular people a lot of them want the same thing … people aren’t sure how they’re going to get these things,” Stockman said.

Since people aren’t sure how to get their basic needs met, they don’t trust the government. This creates a problem because the government is supposed to be a voice for everyone. When people can’t agree with each other they stop listening even if their problems are similar.

“If you like Trump then you’re looking for someone else who voted for him, and if you don’t like Trump then you’re looking for someone who definitely didn’t,” Stockman explained.

Politics have an effect on everything from jobs and schools to where you decide to live, but it especially affects relationships, both romantic and platonic. The way you present yourself to the world is represented in your politics. People like to surround themselves with people that have the same world views and beliefs which are reflected in people's political views. Differences can impact families and friends and, in the end, cause relationships to end.

“That’s kinda what we are deciding right now … Trump supporters don’t like the way we have chosen our government up to now," Stockman said. "There’s going to be some sort of weird divorce between the ones that support him and the ones that don’t.”

No one knows what the country will look like in the next few years, or even months, but we do know that our country is more divided than ever. People are more politically involved now than ever, especially among young adults. Not many relationships involve mixed political views because politics are so much more than funding for schools; now it is about human rights and who gets to survive.

No one can be completely politically unbiased and no one can choose to be completely uninvolved in politics. Being human and living in the U.S. naturally makes every decision you make a political move. Since we are all involved, we are picking a side that aligns most with our values. Picking this side puts you under the label that the person leading that group is known for. It doesn't matter if you aren’t those things, but because you are trusting that leader, you are believing in their beliefs and actions. 

There is nothing we can do to change someone’s views because once they have it they are set on it. What we can do is come together as a nation and agree on the issues we all want to change like healthcare, answers to climate change, jobs and human rights because if we can start agreeing on the big picture view, we will see that we aren’t that different because we are all humans.

“Usually the solutions are different. but if you at least agree on the problems then you can start working on them and where you might find common ground,” Stockman said.

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