Two parties are stronger together

By Krystyna Serhijchuk, Columnist

serhijchukkrystyna_cutout Since Donald Trump’s shocking win in the presidential race, my social media news feeds have been flooded with opinions on the issue. Mostly, I’ve seen post after post encouraging those with opposing views to “just unfriend me; we have nothing in common.”

As a Hillary Clinton supporter, I know how difficult it is to hear the other side’s views. Shutting out their opinions completely, however, simply perpetuates the divisiveness between parties and causes us to live in delusional political bubbles.

Clinton said it herself during her concession speech: “We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future.”

This sentiment rang true with her “stronger together” campaign slogan, as well as with Bernie Sanders’ “not me, us” slogan.

You don’t need to agree with the opposing side, but you can’t just tune them out. Ignoring those who disagree with our political opinions and values makes us complacent. We pretend the other side isn’t as large as it truly is, and we don’t face our conflicting views head-on.

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Instead we surround ourselves with like-minded people. This is especially true in our college environment, monolithic in its views, as about 60 percent of college professors identify as “liberal” or “far-left.” Conservatives, however, are more common in the general public. Our university bubble affects how we perceive reality.

While those around me and myself identity as liberal, and are relatively unexposed to conservative viewpoints, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any Trump supporters on campus or 60 million other people who voted for him across the country. Ignoring opposing viewpoints makes it so that we do not see the dangers and realities of the current political divisiveness in America.

Our divisiveness is clearly evident. According to the Washington Post, more than “4 in 10 Democrats and Republicans say the other party’s policies are so misguided that they pose a threat to the nation.”

In addition, according to Pew Research Center, more than “half of Democrats say the Republican party makes them ‘afraid,’ while 49 percent of Republicans say the same about the Democratic party.”

Clearly there is miscommunication and a misunderstanding between the two parties if they are  this blatantly fearful of each other. We must work out issues together, or risk more fear and divisiveness in our country.

The divisive politics we’ve seen over this election and since Trump was elected will likely continue over the next four years, but this can be lessened with dialogue. This doesn’t mean that those who do not share Trump’s views should stand by and allow intolerance to fester.

But avoidance simply isn’t the answer. The conflicts and disagreements should be addressed constructively if we want any chance at resolving anything. Dealing with these situations destructively and avoiding everyone with a differing opinion prolongs our collective misery.

Psychiatrist Carl Jung once said: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

When you’re feeling anger coupled with judgmentalism about the opposing side, you’re being handed an opportunity to learn about yourself. And what you want to do with that knowledge is up to you; hopefully you choose to act upon it in healthy and productive ways.

We see others as “other” because we choose to see them separately. Our current divisive politics can unite further and mobilize the Americans who do not agree with Trump’s hatefulness, but we can’t do this if we ignore the opposing side.

We cannot bridge the divide between parties without people explaining their differing perspectives and us looking outside our sociopolitical bubbles. A good time to practice this might be Thanksgiving break, away from our usual college space.

Your family dinner may be a good time to actively discuss everybody’s views instead of doing your best to avoid uncomfortable political jargon.

Krystyna is a junior in English.

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