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Polar Opposites

Disagreement doesn’t need to result in division
Two+partisan+extremes+arguing+over+an+issue+and+not+compromising+or+reaching+any+common+ground.+This+disagreement+creates+a+deep+chasm+between+too+unwavering+cliffs+with+different+opinions%2C+and+makes+those+willing+to+compromise+crazy+as+the+polarization+of+extreme+ideals+leads+to+deep+division+between+the+two+groups.+Illustration+by+Birdie+Brereton
Two partisan extremes arguing over an issue and not compromising or reaching any common ground. This disagreement creates a deep chasm between too unwavering cliffs with different opinions, and makes those willing to compromise crazy as the polarization of extreme ideals leads to deep division between the two groups. Illustration by Birdie Brereton

Tyler Joseph, the lead singer for the band Twenty-One Pilots, and his now two-person band with percussionist Josh Dun had been my initial introduction to the magical genre of alternative rock, and their song “Polarize” from the album “Blurryface” has Joseph saying, “Help me polarize, help me polarize, help me out,” which describes his effort to separate himself from Blurryface, a pseudonym for his demons and anxieties. His polarization from his anxieties is courageous, inspiring, and powerful, but society’s polarization is demoralizing, disappointing, and dangerous— it needs to be reduced.

Most people and family conversationalists do everything in their power to avoid conversations when they become political. However, some enjoy how a political debate with family or friends can turn friendly nonchalance into furious contempt. Abortion, climate change, gun control, and gender-related issues invoke demons within people as their opinions, usually falling into the extremes, overshadow casual discussion— they can’t accept any thought not mirroring their own. This polarization, the vile disconnect that every year becomes more and more of a chasm growing both between and inside the two parties, almost makes it feel like there is no hope in the future of politics, and eventually like thunder and lightning, there will be violence after the noise.

According to Presidential Election Update American Government, Stories of a Nation, political parties “support candidates,” for office and “provide labels” for voters to identify with candidates “closer to their” ideologies, acting as “opposition to the majority,” in a basic form as James Madison called it, factions, where people gathered with like-minded views.

However, when Donald Trump popularized the pejorative term RINO, or Republicans in Name Only, those who were against Trump were called a RINO, hence being a rhino in a savanna of elephants. Trump has shifted the Republican Party’s goals and stances significantly, and this has created many extremes within the party, which has led to people attacking people within the party and bringing up this absurd idea of “loyalty.” Political parties in this sense seem to only tear people apart instead of uniting voters. Rational policy agreement and the representation of the constituency matter most, not people attacking the other side for the sake of disagreement.

Although everyone loves a leader they can rally behind emitting the feeling of power through confidence and pure respect, people have very different ideas of respect. Focusing on policy bipartisanship and rational debate is essential, not petty insults humiliating the speaker, a trait of those unfit to lead. Especially when the political tides are still shifting, though party collaboration is a prerequisite to being efficient, it seems to be a trait parties seem to be losing.

Additionally, any discussion of politics with opinions being fired from both ends of the political spectrum ends in at best discomfort and worst disgust, yelling, and resentment. In our current political climate, it’s intimidating to try to start a political conversation with colleagues or friends let alone with relatives because it’s up to chance how they’ll react, especially when some have different views on loyalty and respect and their definition of a leader. Not to mention the constant pressure to be politically correct in situations one shouldn’t have to worry about! 

Emotions seem to matter more than facts to a large percentage of people. Because of this, working out differences and coming to a consensus seems less and less feasible, and therefore it’s paramount to be able to listen to the other side, especially when one disagrees with it. This way, logical discussion and agreements can be made despite the false assumption by extremes that compromises are seemingly impossible. We need to find the necessary compromises to enforce policy to better society, and anyone acting as the stubborn mule in the railroad tracks, especially those resorting to violence, is a detriment to society.

Of course, one might say this logical discussion is useless because the only agreements that matter are those between lawmakers; however, I would disagree. 

Although lawmakers need to remain bipartisan and work to create bills with bipartisan agreement as much as possible to make changes benefitting as much of the constituency as possible, it’s also important to be realistic. Because of the current electoral system, the dominant party will win most of the congressional elections unless one lives in a swing state. Missouri is predominantly Republican, so your vote won’t matter because the majority will always win. The current electoral system only encourages polarization, as Missouri Republican incumbents in Congress can essentially get away with saying whatever they want without losing their seat in office because their seat is secured unless some other candidate comes along in the general election and adopts views on the other side of the party and wins against the incumbent.

While separation in Congress is unavoidable and difficult to prevent, needing careful bipartisan discussion, the people can be less separated— and they need to be. Maintaining civil discussions is the solution to connecting people politically again and preventing social disconnect. Sharing opinions constructively, no matter how small, will lead to consensus and maybe one day change the political dynamics. At least there is hope. No one wants division; they want just laws and trusting companionship between leaders, especially between people, despite having conflicting views. Nothing stops people but their unwillingness to consider changing their minds and refusal to rational discussion. Prevent the future chasms already appearing out of cracks in the ground through agreement. It is urgent to do so.

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