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Friday, February 03, 2023

Here are several topics we are constantly warned to steer clear of when meeting new people. As a general rule of thumb, it is never a smart idea to bring up the subjects of religion, money and — of course — politics. History has shown us time and time again that these are some of the most controversial matters in the world. This past year especially, politics became the crux of major issues on a national scale as well as a personal one.

The last presidential election had Republicans and Democrats at each others’ throats, and that is putting it lightly. Americans began to cling to their political party for dear life, even if they previously considered themselves to be only loosely affiliated.

What has resulted from this increasing strength in party identification is a rigidly divided American public. We became a society of Donald Trump fans and Hillary Clinton fans, not a society of united people. The division that arose does not feel dissimilar to the #TeamEdward or #TeamJacob battles that took place in our aggressively awkward tween years. It seems that as a society, we have digressed.

The judgment that is now surpassed on a person for their political beliefs is something that has spilled over into all walks of life. Friendships have been lost, family relationships have been strained, and business deals have fallen through. Why? Is it because someone filled in a different bubble than you on a sheet of paper back in November? It seems absurd when you think about the fact that we have allowed this election to cause so much destruction in our own lives.

I’ll admit, I too have been guilty of casting judgment on people whose voting choice might have differed from mine, but that doesn’t make it OK. For a while, however, I thought it was.

I think it was largely the theatrics, extremities and general egregiousness that took place in the last election that left people in awe. People began to seek comfort and solace among like-minded friends and so the division began. What started as harmless congregation for therapeutic talks turned into friends hating each other and reasons for hatred among their agreeable companions. Animosity over political ideology became not only acceptable, but encouraged.

Around the holidays, people would post on social media complaining about how they would have to endure their “Trump/Hillary supporting family” as if they now love them less because of the election. America became almost like a giant high-school cafeteria with either group sticking their nose up at the other and looking down them.

Now that we are more than 100 days into the Trump presidency, I think it is time we come back together as one united country. The election is over, and the damage has been done. We have enough to worry about under Trump’s reign without creating more problems on our own accord.

This is not to say I think people should compromise their integrity or give up what they believe. It is to say that we need to learn again how to be a tolerant society.

America prides itself on its diversity and freedom, and we all become somewhat hypocritical when we dismiss another American for no reason other than their political beliefs. It is fine to have your opinions. It is also fine to fight for what you believe in, but it is about time we start doing so in a tolerant and inclusive manner.

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