Why do we have such a stark political divide in this country? Well…I have a lot of thoughts and some of them are not pretty as some of the incite racism and classism and straight up bigotry as causes. But instead of opening up that can of worms, let’s take time to also blame shit like this:
These are two different memes doing the EXACT same thing…simplifying complex political platforms to pro/con type evaluations. And they each paint a different party on the side of good/evil. Do you see how terrible this is? You may look at one and smile and say, “Yep. That one’s totally right.” But then take a look at the OTHER one, the one that puts YOUR side in a bad light. Isn’t it terrible? Aren’t platforms much more complex than, “Promotes Ignorance” or “Against a strong funded military?” I mean, I look at the one that blasts liberals and I want to no longer be liberal. WE SOUND TERRIBLE.
Simplifying political parties in this matter allows for NO nuance. It also allows for NO middle ground. None. And you know what? Middle ground is where stuff actually gets done. We wonder why our government has been so dysfunctional lately with filibusters and gerrymandering and the complicating of simple legislative efforts by the addition of conflicting addendums? This is why. Because it’s always RED v/s BLUE. Each side wants to say they won because we divide ourselves up into these overly simplified categories that fester hatred of the other side.
“I mean, of course I fear conservatives! Look at the meme! They fear diversity! Think about it! The Wall!”
“Liberals are what’s wrong with this country! Terrorism is their fault because they’re against a strong funded military! Look at the meme!”
It’s stuff like this that makes it so easy to divide ourselves because it makes us feel good about hating the other side because we can completely frame them in a light that is unfavorable. Kinda like calling conservatives “Women haters” or liberals “baby killers” – there are ways you can “prove” those statements are true, but why should we? Why do we have to oversimplify things to make them easier to hate? If we allow for complexities and nuance we might actually start to understand someone on the other side and THAT CAN NOT HAPPEN.
Obviously I’m voting for Clinton. That’s not a surprise if you’ve been around here at all…ever. So, obviously I don’t want Trump to be President. And yes, I have the fear…the “WHAT IF?” and the terror and the reflexes to say to non-voters or 3rd party voters, “So…then…you’re OK if he wins? Because I’m not.” But I also need to point out as a resident of a red state in a family with Trump supporters that…um…they feel the same terror when they think of Clinton winning. Like, SHEER TERROR. And they have been living in fear of what “Obama is doing to the country” for 8 years now, so their fear is like…almost a decade old. Ours is a new fear, like the last few months. Theirs? It’s been festering for awhile and has grown quite strong.
Now, obviously if I sat down with one of these people armed with links from reputable news sources supporting my fears and discounting theirs…it wouldn’t matter. Because they also don’t trust anything I consider a news source. And honestly? I get it. Because I don’t trust theirs. And while I feel that the strength of my sources is a quantifiable thing, they don’t. So, there is no argument. And their fear keeps thriving.
I see a lot of, “I have no problem if you unfriend me if you’re voting for Trump!” But I can’t do that. First of all, I see their fear and feel it’s sincerity. And since I have the SAME fear for their candidate, it’s hard for me not to find a tiny bit of empathy. And while I don’t feel like their fears are founded, but mine are, it doesn’t shrink their fear. Just like telling my son there’s nothing to be afraid of does NOTHING to make bedtime easier. He’s terrified every night. Period. No matter how often I prove to him he’s safe.
What I try to do instead is to constantly remind them that I’m more than this meme above. The one that says that people like me don’t think they should be able to defend themselves with ANYTHING. I mean, that meme says I won’t let them own weapons of self defense! WHAT? That’s so vague! Like, they can’t even own knives if someone is trying to kill them? That’s terrible!
So I spend a lot of time talking about specifics of gun control. I’m actually not a fan of using the no-fly list as some sort of yes/no test until we improve and vet the no-fly list. Or at least until we have set up way to defend yourself and get yourself OFF the list if you get put on it. It has no good oversight so I’m not for blindly trusting it to rule the 2nd amendment until we fix how it’s created and debated.
See? NUANCE! COMPLEXITY! No room for that in a meme.
I think it’s important to talk more about the complexities of our beliefs to our opposition to remind them that we don’t fit into these pre-form molds. I mean, yes…I’m 100% pro choice. I trust a woman and her medical care provider to make the best decisions together and I believe the deserve that right. I’m also 100% for transgender rights to live their lives how they identify. So maybe there are times I fit into neat black/white boxes labeled “Baby Killer” or “Queer Lover” – but for the most part? There are gray areas. Especially in terms of economics and military. Specific legislation is what matters and sometimes I disagree with the wording on a bill I really want to support. Or sometimes something has been added on that means I no longer can support that bill.
I just wish it wasn’t so much us v/s them. I feel like this election wouldn’t have turned into a, “YOUR GUY IS THE SCARIEST!” “No! YOUR GIRL IS THE SCARIEST!” if we could just start allowing for complex discussion instead of promoting over-simplified memes.