Sean Ray | Student Columnist
“Let’s talk politics.” Why is that such a dirty phrase? Politics are important. They drive the direction of our nation, have impact on our financial situations, can make college debt easier, affect if our nation is going to war or not and decide how the rest of the world will view us. And yet, it is nearly impossible to talk about politics around the lunch or dinner table with friends. People get mad if you post something related to politics on Facebook or Twitter.
Politics have been completely cut out where other debates are allowed to thrive. People argue over what they should do in their free time or what the best sports teams are. But politics do not get a seat at the table.
I’ve seen many people argue that it’s because people take it too personally, or get too involved. And yet, I’ve seen sports fans yell and shout over why x team is better than y team. And, with apologies to sports fans out there, political discussions are a tad more important, yet are avoided.
As a political science major, I am accustomed to talking about politics with my contemporaries, and honestly I can say, political discussions are some of the best conversations I have had. Talking politics has made me more able to sympathize with people who have an opposite view point than myself. I understand why they think the way they do. Talking politics has not made me angry at people but more understanding and has made me become more moderate. Before college, I was pretty much ultra-liberal. Now, I’m fiscally moderate and have several favorite Republican politicians.
People say that talking politics should be avoided because it usually devolves into shouting matches, but I say not talking about politics is the thing that makes people more partisan. In order to gain an understanding with another side, dialogue needs to happen. If you never ask a person why they think that way, then you’ll remain ignorant or worse, start coming up with reasons that aren’t true.
“That person hates the poor, that’s why they want to cut welfare.”
“That person is an unpatriotic hippy, that’s why they don’t support the war.”
The list could go on like that and eventually devolves into stereotyping. Suddenly everyone who agrees with that person hates the poor or is a hippy and you now disagree with all of them and think they have no good ideas. Ever wonder why there are people that vote for one party and only one party only? Probably because they never took the time to understand the other side.
Let’s face it, it is an unescapable fact that politics are important. An economic down turn can mean no jobs for us when we graduate. A war could mean attacks on us as a nation and our people losing their lives. Any number of bad things or good things can occur that affect us in major ways. It’s time people finally talked to each other about this, lest we become completely politically ignorant or apathetic.
Now, there are rules and one should keep it civil. Remain calm, don’t yell, and don’t fling insults. Other people likely have had different backgrounds than you with different experiences. Where as a political decision could affect you positively, it could equally impact another person negatively. Take turns talking, let someone make their whole point before countering with an argument of your own. Try not to take things overly personal, just because a person disagrees with you does not mean that that person dislikes you. My roommate and I frequently disagree on politics, and yet he’s the first person I’ll hang out with in my free time.
Ultimately, in this day and age, politics are impacting people more and more. The 24 hour news cycle has made people more aware than ever of what’s going on in politics, helped with the near constant access the internet has provided us. We are exposed to politics but we do not discuss politics and that needs to change if we want to elect the government that we want. After all, is it not the function of a democracy to try and please the majority of people? How can one try and pick the candidate that will benefit not only themselves but those around them if they don’t know what their neighbors want? This barrier of communication needs to be broken down if we are to increase our understanding of one another and not foster negative thoughts. Just remember: Keep it civil.