Political differences haven’t always caused such division between Americans. There have been periods in recent history when Democrats and Republicans could debate their opinions on policy and ideology without hating each other. If two individuals disagreed on politics and societal values, they simply believed the other person was wrong on certain issues, but still worthy of respect.
Americans Are Becoming More Divided
Unfortunately, a recent study shows that the impact of political differences has worsened over the years, and it doesn’t seem that things will return to normalcy any time soon. The College Fix, a news site focused on stories related to university students, conducted a poll analyzing the attitudes of pupils when it comes to those who have different political beliefs from theirs. The survey asked 1,000 college students whether they believed members of the opposite political party were “not just worse for politics,” but “basically evil.”
The poll showed that 37% of Democratic students believed Republicans were “essentially evil,” and 39% of Republicans viewed their counterparts the same way. Even scarier, 7% of Democrats and 8% of Republicans believed that it was acceptable to use violence to enforce their political opinions.
What Does This Mean?
The nation’s political environment appears increasingly divided. Many Americans are judging others more harshly based on their party affiliation rather than their character. It is perhaps the reason why we have seen so many examples of political violence over the past five years.
In 2017, a Democrat attempted to murder Republican members of Congress at a baseball game. Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) almost died after being shot, along with several of his colleagues. In the same year, a white nationalist killed a protester in Charlottesville, Virginia, during an alt-right rally when he drove his car into a crowd of people.
Who is to blame for the rising anger? As is often the case, the blame does not fall on one set shoulders but many. Some responsibility falls to the news media. Both conservative and leftist media outlets have been guilty of painting people with opposing views in the most negative light; partisan politicians are not free from blame, either. Many elected officials use harsh language when discussing their opponents, painting a picture to the audience that is almost horrific in its theatrics.
Politics has always been an emotional topic for many. But Americans have, from time to time, found ways to bridge the gap. The truth is that the vast majority of Americans wish to make the country better; they just don’t agree on how that should be done.
By focusing on areas where we can agree, we may figure out how to disagree without hating each other.