Imagine you are at a party chatting with someone who you find really attractive. You share many mutual interests, have the same music taste and hit it off really well. You would probably want to hang out with them again.
Now, imagine you are in the same exact scenario, except this time the individual you are interested in removes their jacket mid-conversation and reveals an elephant colored like the U.S. flag, representing their support for the Republican Party. Do you still wish to see them again?
Assistant Professor of Political Science Benjamin Gaskins posed this type of question in my Introduction to American Politics class last semester. To my dismay, much of the class immediately stated they would cease to interact with this person. This at its core runs contrary to the functionality of our political system. Politics, instead of unifying us with the common goal of creating a more perfect union, now divides. It creates a divide so deep that many no longer look beyond people’s political alignment before judging their character. This largely is the reason why I choose to remain politically neutral for the time being and why I am choosing not to vote in the 2020 presidential election.
From my perspective, I see both the Democrats and Republicans making it their mission to further distance themselves from each other. Each party demonizes the other to gain more backing from their own members and further legitimize their beliefs. This results in more radical leaders being nominated for the presidency, further adoption of extremist ideas and only greater divide. With this perpetuation of more extremist beliefs, if you are moderate or on the fence you are deemed an enemy within both parties.
I choose to not vote and to remain neutral not because I do not support democracy, not because I do not hold any beliefs and not because I am lazy. Rather, I wish not to perpetuate this culture of division. I will not vote for an individual who will continue this vicious cycle. I feel that today’s two-party system inaccurately reflects my beliefs and what I stand for. Rather than focus upon politics, I focus upon that which is in my control such as how I live my life, what I believe in and how I can better myself. Also, I choose to see people’s character and who they are as people over just their politics.
By no means am I calling out specific individuals. It is best that we disagree and have healthy, honest discussions over these disagreements rather than staying within our own echo chambers. I hope more students at Lewis & Clark have the courage to burst the bubble here on campus. Speak openly, respectfully and freely about what you believe in.