This election season felt longer and more mentally draining that most.
It’s not usual to have a political divisiveness – it’s how our system is set up.
If we all held the same things as equally important, there’d be no need for political parties. We’d all be on the same magical page, every day, to infinity and beyond.
Alas, we don’t live in that utopia.
And we do have differing opinions – about what issue means the most, about how it should be addressed and about what qualities we most desire in a leader.
So here we are, with Election Day (sort of) behind us, and the shouts of division are growing to a deafening roar.
In the name of starting to heal this deep divide, can we all be quiet for a little while?
No, no one is asking you to give up your voice or stifle your opinions – never would we suggest that. Our freedoms of speech and expression are sacred.
But maybe we could all listen to one another instead of arguing about whose opinion is right? Especially when those opinions are about what’s most important to someone, and likely what shaped their vote in 2020.
Political beliefs are just as sacred as religious ones, yet the judgment leveled for identifying as any party is swift and sometimes severe.
Almost 80% of Americans have “just a few” or no friends who supported a different presidential candidate, according to a survey conducted at the Pew Research Center and reported on by NPR. The survey was conducted July 27-Aug. 2 and only included registered voters.
A Public Religion Institute poll showed that 8 in 10 Democrats believe the Republican Party has been overtaken by racists. Eight in 10 Republicans think the Democratic Party is now run by socialists.
The results of both polls are more than just a bit disconcerting.
To believe that every member of each party leans to the far right or far left with nothing in between is to ignore those many, many people who live in the middle.
Jocelyn Kiley, associate director of research at Pew, told NPR that their research showed that Democrats are more likely to end a friendship over differing political views, while Republicans say they’re less likely to have friends on the other side in the first place.
It’s hard to understand how it got that way, but more importantly, we shouldn’t want to let it continue. Neither friendships nor families should be torn apart over differing political alignments.
But there are options.
Two, in fact, leap to mind.
Not discussing politics with those who cannot do it civilly (or if you cannot) and/or abiding by the Golden Rule we all learned as children: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
Thomas Jefferson spoke on the subject of differing beliefs many years ago. He’s been quoted as saying, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
Wise man, that third president of ours.
Perhaps we should listen.