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Politics as Usual: Can Americans learn to agree to disagree?

Erica+Esparza
Erica Esparza

Erica Esparza

Erica Esparza

Erica Esparza, Political Writer and Columnist

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Erica Esparza was the 2016 Archer Fellow.

Political talk is usually thought upon the same as religious discourse, maybe it’s better to not open that can of worms considering the passionate dissimilarities between people. Different people come from different backgrounds and upbringings and this plays a huge role in the way they see the world through their beliefs and credence. The goal of political talk should not be about changing the opposition’s mind but rather challenging their position to provide inquisitive notions and to convey a different perspective for reasonable thought. Hopefully, they can come to an agreement that maybe they just don’t understand the other point of view or they just outright don’t agree or don’t care. It’s acceptable to not agree but what matters is that there remains a civility between the two parties and it’s my personal belief that is where we begin to bridge the gap. Politics to some are very tiresome or blatantly boring, as we have seen with this past presidential election and the controversies that have surrounded the election. Unfortunately, political talk has led to the divisional divide between family, friends, and acquaintances and sometimes even with complete strangers that have stigmatized politics. Politics completely surrounds human life whether it’s through government, church, sports, workplace, community-based organizations, schools, and the list continues. Politics surround every aspect of our lives, whether we like politics or not, because there will always be a power dynamic in every facet of life.

The definition of political thought is the study of questions concerning power, justice, rights, laws, and other issues that pertain to governance. Political thought should be a welcoming conversation because it nurtures the mind and it allows for the common man or women the ability to not remain in the shadows of the government’s allegory. There are people who prefer to live in the shadows; they prefer to see a puppeteer show on a parapet wall while refusing to acknowledge the physical world even if they can see a glimpse of it through their peripheral vision. The reference that is made regarding the allegory, shadows and the puppeteers on the parapet wall comes from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which is a philosophical symbolic analogy for “the effect of education and the lack of it in our nature” and the “power of perspective.” Sometimes it’s a scary thing to think because it can definitely be an overwhelming feeling to the point where you become an over thinker and then it just leads to anxieties. It’s understandable why people veer away from politics and sometimes they think it’s just too complex to follow or understand and they might feel it’s emotionally draining especially if you’re passionate about something but it’s also beneficial to know the decisions those in power make that affect your personal life to include your families’ lives in an everyday format. People do not have to be highly educated with multiple degrees to question our government and the decisions that are made on our behalf. The only thing that is necessary is the desire to want to learn, the desire to know, and the desire to be included and sometimes it’s best through social exchanges as long as it’s a healthy exchange because you weigh and balance different perspectives, which can be a source of fuel for the mind.

Individuals can self-educate through political interchange in addition to following the latest news from credible news sources. Regrettably, there are many biased news sources that create an allegory on its own and sadly many of their loyal viewers tend to allow talking heads to fabricate a shadow that becomes the only viewpoint and stance in their interpretation, which creates a lot of white noise that contributes to the uncivil and personal attacks one exhibits when another perspective challenges their perception of truth. A person who is self-educated can accept a difference in approach and sentiment without the harshness of an immediate and absolute dismissal. There is another ruinous norm when political talk transpires according to any given political topic, which is “it’s true because I believe its true” without the use of any logic to support one’s position on a talking point is baseless and therefore it completely stops the process of meaningful and thoughtful rapport that is necessary to build a foundation of common comprehension whether its an agreeable conclusion or not. In order for political rapport to be successful, it requires an extent of individualism amongst chattering people who refuse to be conformist to how others influence them to think, in simplest terms, to be open minded. That is really a difficult request because people do conform to their demographics and/or geographical regions but just because you hear political chatter while working on an oil rig that a democratic administration would sabotage the oil industry and compromise your job does not make it necessarily true but rather an opinion. A thought provoking person would think:  “Well, how could any administration (regardless of ideology) completely sabotage an industry overnight that millions of Americans make their livelihood on without a backup plan to incentivize those millions of Americans who lost their jobs?” That would be political suicide, not to mention, every administration on day one focuses on what their legacy will be in the history books once it’s over and no president or administration wants a legacy of putting millions of middle-class hard-working people out on the street with families to support. It’s just not going to happen, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican or Democrat president governing the country.

Individuals who argue politics with the opinions they hear from uncompromising and dogmatic people (who refuse to think outside the bubble) will deprive and cripple their potential to learn anything evidential and factual. Dogmatic and uncompromising dialogue is detrimental to the unity of the country because people can agree to disagree and still really like each other once it’s all said and done. Social media is a breeding ground for political talk and although people complain of “people being too political” on any social media venue it seems that politics is just not for everyone and that’s all right. Social media has its pros and cons but the worldwide connectivity to people is effective and people can blog about their opinions and stances on anything from life in general to politics, isn’t that the purpose of social media to have an exchange of ideas? It’s a form of nonviolent free speech and how can you hate on that, maybe its easy to hate on because you do not necessarily agree with their views but again that’s acceptable. Opposition and disagreements are expected, that’s what makes us a democracy. The art of politics is a system of thought and rationality and if either or is not included in your political conversations then you’re not really discussing politics, you’re discussing opinions. Politics to me is like a game of chess or really any type of sport because it facilitates and necessitates strategy just like in any type of game. It actually sounds pretty shabby when it’s put that way because it shouldn’t be a game when the decisions politicians make impact people’s lives but it’s supposed to reference the strategy behind politics similar to a game. Sadly, many politicians play the game for self-interest where with the existence of money, power, and greed takes their initial consideration for the common good to be replaced with their consideration for self-indulgence and a selfish fulfillment. On the other hand, there are politicians who do play the game for the common good, which lies at the core of their considerations and priorities. As time progresses, Americans take their fair share of curve balls but it’s up to us, the American people, to keep swinging and to stay informed on the game—otherwise, we get played!

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Politics as Usual: Can Americans learn to agree to disagree?”

  1. Robert Brescia on April 21st, 2017 11:17 am

    Well said Erica! Thank you for taking the time to write this great piece – Bob

    [Reply]

    Erica Esparza Reply:

    Thank you Dr. Brescia!

    [Reply]

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Politics as Usual: Can Americans learn to agree to disagree?