By Duke Staff
Let’s never allow this to happen ever again.
You know what I’m talking about. With the exception of a few die-hard Trump supporters, no one enjoyed the most recent presidential election and its seemingly endless build-up of hateful speech and general divisiveness. Poll after poll demonstrated that Trump and Clinton were the most disliked presidential nominees in the history of nationwide polling.
Now that the election is over, it’s time for everyone, especially young voters, to critically examine what went wrong in this election so we can begin to lay the groundwork for a less polarizing race in 2020. We aren’t talking about passing the blame onto the Democratic National Committee for supporting Clinton over Sanders or changing the entire structure of the Republican Party to make it more or less supportive of Trump. What we’re talking about are on-the-ground, day-to-day changes young adults can make in their lives to improve their ability to discuss politics and engage in political action.
Keep an open mind, and look for the positives. The United States is a huge, diverse country. When you meet someone who fundamentally disagrees with everything you hold dear, fight past your gut reaction to dismiss that person as a complete moron. Instead, ask yourself, what are their fears? Why do they think the way they do? Try to see things from your opponent’s perspective. You might still disagree with them, and perhaps you should, but maybe you’ll respect them a little more.
Stay involved politically. The only reason we wound up with Clinton and Trump as our candidates was because not enough people came out to vote in the primaries. And don’t forget— state and local elections happen roughly every two years, and those elections arguably matter more than the presidential election. Duquesne has campus political groups where you can go to develop your own political opinions further.
Step out of your comfort zone. In the era of tailored Facebook feeds, Fox News and MSNBC, it’s easy to surround yourself with people who agree with you on everything. Easy, but not wise. The only way we can heal political divides is to get to know each other better. Don’t unfriend people on social media for voting differently than you. Instead, invite them to meet you for a cup of coffee and ask them about their views. You might learn something that surprises you.
It can be easy to insult and label those who disagree with you as liars or idiots. Fight that temptation. In closing, we’ll remind you of a famous quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s writings on Voltaire that encapsulates the essential idea behind a free democracy: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”