Column, Opinions

We Are Way Too Polarized

I think everyone can agree with me that all extremes are bad: too much sugar, too much salt, eating too much, not eating enough, drinking too much water, or not drinking enough water. This concept, however, does not apply solely to the nutritional aspects of our lives. Just like we need to balance our diets, we need to balance our academic and social lives. The same goes for our ideologies. When we become too hard-headed, we are unable to listen to other ideas or even be open to putting ourselves in different perspectives. 

Yes, I am talking about politics. Politics is the one thing we are so quick to talk about, but we’re always unwilling to understand opinions different from ours. As a political science major myself, I find it frustrating that certain points of view are vilified. Not everything is black and white, but the way that the party system works in the United States has forced us to think in a black and white mentality—good and bad guys, blue and red. What we fail to realize is that gray exists—good and evil can be present at the same time, and purple is also a color. Balance. In betweens. They exist, and there is nothing that infuriates me more than seeing people assume what others believe based on the other person’s political affiliations. 

We claim to be so open-minded as a society, but we’re only actually open-minded when it is convenient to us. Just because someone voted for Joe Biden, does not mean that they agree with all of his policies. Similarly, someone who belongs to the Republican Party does not necessarily believe in all of its ideals. This is especially true considering that the party is not the same as it used to be before Donald Trump assumed the presidency. The same goes for Republicans, who always assume that all Democrats are communists. We live in a country where people assume what others believe based on their affiliations, and I personally find it stupid and counterproductive. 

Policies and legislation have become a play of party interest rather than what is good for the people. Power play and party victories have triumphed over victories of the people. There is a staggering amount of legislation that could have been passed because it was genuinely beneficial for the people, but instead it was turned down because it went against a certain party or politician’s interest. For example, Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator representing West Virginia opposes Biden’s Clean Energy Payment Program and is attempting to implement a working requirement on the child tax credit. Neither of these motives represents the needs of the state of West Virginia—which is suffering from severe flooding and labor shortages—but Manchin himself benefits from the large contributions from the fossil fuel industry and is personally invested in the coal mining industry. You might say this is the game of politics, but do you see how hypocritical that is? “We the people,” suddenly became “we the party.” 

No one at this school, or in this generation for that matter, is willing to listen. We hear, but we do not listen. We shun. We have become too ignorant and close-minded to even attempt to understand where other people’s mentalities come from. We have regressed from the ideal of a “free,” opinionated society because we have all limited ourselves to a frigid idea of what is right. Assumptions are the worst thing that we can do. Jumping to conclusions is a characteristic of rash human beings, and we as a society have stopped evolving. 

Life is not meant for us to be surrounded by people who think exactly as we do, nor should we condition them to do so. Instead, we should find compromises. Polarization only leads to counter-productive extremes. As a society, as a nation, we are way too polarized. We must find middle ground.

Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan/ Heights Editor

October 24, 2021