Brea McClung: Is it right to be right…or left?

Published 12:02 am Thursday, October 29, 2020

Political polarization in our country is more evident in our current world, country, state and even county than ever before.

Social media may be one of the culprits which has caused the appearance of such a large divide. I would argue that both conservative media agents such as Fox News and liberal media outlets such as MSNBC are also partly to blame for the large rift in our society.

Political parties in general run their campaigns in a way that paints a negative picture of the opposing side; applying rhetoric to influence public opinion to believe they are a greater “moral” or “patriotic” choice.

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Conservatives will argue liberals are too soft; Liberals will argue that conservatives are racially insensitive. We are more quick to judge and denounce the opposite side than ever before in our nation’s history.

I am going to coin this as the “I am right and you are a bad person mentality.” People feel their position is justified in such a way that most in our society have become unwilling to look at each other and communicate in a respectful manner as to why each of us believe the way we do.

Families have stopped talking to one another, friendships have been broken, colleagues will not collaborate because the “I am right and you are a bad person mentality” continues to wreak havoc on our world.

Political hostility is evident in every page we turn in our daily lives. I am old enough to remember a time when asking someone who they were voting for was seen as inappropriate and indecent. According to leading political scientists, the number one factor which affects our political socialization (how you determine your political values) is our family background. If your parents are Democrats or Republicans, then you are also more likely to vote that way your entire life, and, for the most part it does not matter what the candidate from the opposing party does — rarely will most change their position.

In our world today, cities and states are referred to as “red” or “blue,” and we make an immediate judgment to vilify or glorify them based on political ideology. This mentality of politicizing everything is again unfortunate.

We are all American citizens who live in the greatest country in the world. Soldiers sacrificed their lives to give us freedom of choice. We must be very careful when we justify berating others for their beliefs, as I would argue a better approach is trying to understand the perspective in which they are coming from.

People are more than a simple political party or ideology. This should never be a single factor in our view of others. I assert that using an approach of humanity will help us all to develop a considerate cognizance of one another.

We should never assume that all people stand behind an entirety of a political party platform. I know Democrats who believe in and practice Republican party platform ideals; they carry guns, they are Christian, they serve in the military and some are the most patriotic people I know. Let me also say that I know Republicans who believe Democratic party ideas such as the power of labor unions, they support public schools and also are against the separation of children at the border from their parents.

Let me offer a partial solution which may help our tumultuous climate.

Be careful of political talking points. Most are just that and do not offer substance.

Educate yourself. Do not simply drink the Kool-Aid offered to you by either side.

Name calling is never a good way to convince others of your opinion.

Understand that we are all more alike than we are different.

We may disagree on policy and how it should be implemented.

I will normally vie for the Democratic nominee. I have personal reasons for this that I am never shy to discuss, but I also understand that some policies benefit other individuals from the Republican side. There are some Republicans in my life whom I love more than anything, and I know that they, in turn, also love me regardless of our stances.

Each of us gets this wonderful freedom to choose what is right for us. Truth be told, most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle and are actually not as polar opposite as may seem.

The next time political rage begins to set in, try offering up some humanity, unity and compromise, it may go further than you think.

Brea McClung, of Lawrence County, has taught American history for 20 years in Gallia County public schools.