Op-Ed: End Political Divisiveness

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Photo illustration from Bigstock.com.

Brian Gamble

In the past few years, politics has become increasingly volatile and personal. It feels unnecessarily difficult to have a polite conversation with anyone concerning the current administration or the upcoming 2020 election.

I think of myself as a pretty neutral person, politically. I may lean a bit to the left on the majority of topics, but I do hold my share of views that fall on the right as well.

In spite of my moderate views, however, I still have to weather the endless tirade of political opinions from my peers. Discourse has gotten so divisive that I now try to avoid speaking at the mere mention of politics.

It is not just me noticing this, too. The Pew Research Center (PRC) reports that there are growing differences in opinion on various issues between Democrats and Republicans.

One study conducted by the PRC showed that the percentage of Democrats and left-leaning Independents in support of the government helping the needy has grown by 17 percent over the past six years, going from 54 to 71 percent.

The opinions of many Republicans on this issue has also changed greatly since 2007, with the original 54 percent who agreed with this statement decreasing to a mere 25 percent.

In a time when politics are constantly thrust upon us by the news and social media, the increasing divisions between people on political matters can only lead to worse outcomes.

For example, according to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, “against a backdrop of rising political and social polarization, the Anti-Defamation League has reported a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents since the 2016 election.”

Hate crimes in general have risen over the past few years. As the Science Center further reports, “In California alone, hate crimes have jumped 44 percent since 2015.”

Personally, I have seen political disagreements tear apart lifelong friendships and leave people feeling alienated or ostracized.

As far as I am concerned, people do not talk about politics anymore with the intention of coming to a solution or compromise. Instead, it seems that the only thing many are concerned with is trying to prove someone else wrong.

Instead of giving in to the endless cycle of bickering and finger pointing that seems to pervade politics nowadays, I urge people to make an effort to listen to each other.