Today, I want to throw out a few examples to try and highlight that we are not as divided as the picture the media and Internet paints. These are oversimplified summaries of complex issues meant to highlight that we are closer to being on the same page than it often seems.
Global Warming: Maybe you think man-made carbon dioxide emissions accelerated global warming to dangerous levels that may be near-irreversible. Maybe you think the planet goes through periods of natural changes and this just happens to be a heating period. The planet is warmer. It affects the climate and animal populations, which in turn affects food supplies, energy, and the severity of our weather. In our own self interest, we should be looking after the environment.
We all understand why pillaging the environment is a bad thing, right?
Border Security: Everyone wants border security. One side focuses on the need to catch and prosecute the illegal immigrants who would do harm to this country. The other side focuses on the need for humane treatment of innocent individuals who were compelled to use illegal means to reach our country. We can do both.
The idea that one side is a bunch of racist xenophobes and the other are terrorist/gang supporters who are soft on crime is ridiculous.
Gun Control: No one wants children/innocents gunned down in the streets. One side does not want to give up their Constitutionally protected right to own and carry firearms. The other side wants more restrictions in place to keep firearms out of the hands of those who would gun down innocents. We can do both.
The idea that the pro-gun are hyper violent and the anti-gun crowd want to seize all weapons is ridiculous.
Fake News: Let’s just face it – the pundits are bad. We need journalists, but the pundits are not helping the discourse in our country. CNN, MSNBC, and the like offer a liberal spin; FOX and Sinclair Broadcast group offer the conservative one. No one is fair and balanced.
The idea that your pundits offer the unvarnished truth and the other side are conspiracy spinning nut jobs is ridiculous.
Healthcare: People should be able to receive and afford healthcare in the event of injury or illness. One side believes the government should not be involved, or as involved anyway, and certainly not impose healthcare on people. The other side believes that healthcare should be available to everyone even if that means (or preferably by) socialising it.
The idea that one side hates poor people or that the other wants the government to make medical decisions for you is ridiculous.
Some issues are more complicated, but still more universal than they seem.
Abortion: No one advocates for the wanton destruction of a viable foetus. We have a near universal agreement that in cases of rape, incest, or immediate danger to the woman that termination of the pregnancy is okay. Many support the complete autonomy of the mother in the earliest stages of pregnancy (first 20 weeks) to terminate, or can at least understand that option. Even more people understand the role of sex education and contraception in reducing the number of cases that reach that point. We can satisfy most of this.
The idea that all pro-lifers hate women and the idea that all pro-choicers are baby killers is ridiculous.
My point is, we can disagree about the political solutions to these problems. Should the state have a significant role in the issue, or should the decisions be left to the private sector or individuals? If the state does have a role, should it be the federal government or the individual states?
But the ongoing bickering we have as Americans that everyone on the “other side” hate this country and only want to benefit themselves needs to stop. We are way more aligned on issues than our national discourse would suggest, and we are further from solutions because of that misconception.
I know some readers will disagree with how I presented these examples altogether. Some will disagree with how I act as an apologist for the other side (or for theirs). Someone has to – the idea of failing to hold up the side, the fear of ostracising from from one’s party or ideological allies has to stop.
We can work together towards solutions as soon as we stop assuming that the “other side” is out to destroy everything we hold dear. It’s propaganda from interest groups pushing extreme views one way or the other, not a representation of how most Americans view the nuance of the issue. Let’s all be better about that.